t
o
n
y
a
n
g
'
s
 
w
e
b
l
o
g


with less than 48 hours to go before the weekend snowstorm, meteorologists have a clearer picture of what's going to happen on saturday. the consensus as of this morning was a snowfall forecast of 12-18" which is pretty substantial. the last time we had over a foot of snow was december 2020, over a year ago.

i searched my kitchen this morning for a container large enough that i can sit my plastic colander in. all my pots were either too small or shallow. i thought about using a stock pot but before i could do that, i realized the plastic bowl of my salad spinner is a perfect fit, as well as my plastic punch bowl.

for lunch i heated up a spicy jamaican beef patty and mixed a glass of hot matcha latte.

i wanted to help my parents out by getting some chinese new year ingredients for them. but my mother was against the idea, she wanted fresh ingredients, and asked my father to go early tomorrow morning. i'd be afraid to go to masket basket the day before a big snowstorm. not so much the crowd of people and long lines, more so the difficulty in finding a parking spot. of course i always go by bike, so parking isn't a problem for me.

so instead in the afternoon i biked to the cafe to drop off some frozen boneless chicken thighs i bought last week, then went to my parents' house to clean before our chinese new year dinner on sunday (since i won't be there on saturday, i'll be hunkered down at home waiting out the snowstorm).

by the time i got to belmont it was already kind of late, 3:45pm. i checked out the MPPT solar battery charging setup before going into the grow room to check on the plants. i killed a few mealybugs on the gardenia, and some potential mealybugs on the left front floor jasmine and one of the second shelf jasmines. i went back to the batteries and set up a wyze cam so we can read the numbers remotely. i also moved some containers so it was easier to get to the batteries instead of walking around the obstacles.

i also went outside to refill the bird feeder (it was half full). i checked the suet feeder more closely, there were bite marks from where the squirrel tried to get into the cage. it almost made me regret leaving more peanuts for the squirrels to eat. i looked inside the row cover, the daikon radishes look mostly dead. i would try to dig them up if the frozen wasn't already frozen solid.

only then did i finally start cleaning the house. i moved some items around: space heater into the sunroom, collected all the gingko nuts into a jar, moved the 2 zero gravity chairs into the basement. i then started vacuuming; i vacuumed over the weekend, but you can never get enough vacuuming. midway through my vacuuming, my parents came home early around 5:30pm. watching the news, the updated forecast was for 24+ inches of snow in the boston area.

originally my mother wanted to order burger king for dinner, but my father ended up making hot & sour soup and we ate that with some mantou stuffed with pork floss and pickled mustard greens.

i didn't leave until 8pm. temperature was 22°F, but i've since acclimated to the cold temperature. it helps that i naturally warm up after a few minutes of biking.

my father connected the HQST MPPT solar charge controller last night and sent me some reading this morning of it in action. he had it connected to the 35Ah portable battery box instead of the marine battery since the marine battery can barely hold a charge these days.

the HQST also comes with bluetooth built-in, with shows a lot more info than the built-in LCD screen. MPPT controllers are more efficient than PWM controllers, adjusting the current to maximize the charging output. the MPPT was set to sealed lead acid battery, to match the battery type of the 35Ah portable battery. the real test will come when we get our LiFePo4 batteries sometimes the end of march.

i had a dental appointment in the late morning, the 3rd and final visit for my upper left molar, the "fitting of the crown." since i wouldn't be able to eat for 2 hours afterwards, i had some cereal before i left, so i wouldn't be hangry the rest of the day.

temperature this morning was in the 20's. it seems all my morning dentist visits have been in bitterly cold weather, so i'm used to it by now. 20's with the sun out and hardly any wind isn't too bad, and at least i can still ride in late january, we haven't had a substantial snowstorm that makes riding impossible with snow piled bike lanes.

i got to the park street office by 11am. without saying a word, the bitchy secretary disappeared to tell the dentist before the dental assistant came to bring me to an exam room. on the table was a molded cast of my left jaw, with an enamel crown in place of my missing shaved-down molar. the dentist took out the temporary crown (i sort of got used to it, a little sad to see it go even though it really was just a lump of hand-shaped epoxy) and put in the new permanent one.

the crown didn't feel good at first, felt a little high, as i chew on the left side of my jaw to get a feel for my new tooth. but after a few minutes it settled, and it felt okay. i'd definitely get used to it a lot faster than the temporary crown, which took a few weeks to get used to. the dentist had me bit down on some paper-like material to check out the bite marks. everything looked good, so they mixed up some dental cement and "glued" the crown in place. the dentist told me not to eat on that side for a few days as it might be sensitive, and if there was any discomfort, to come in and get the crown adjusted.

with that i was done. it took less than 30 minutes and i didn't even need to get a novacaine shot. the dentist disappeared to prepare for her next patient, i was just kind of standing there thinking, "that's it? no further instructions? no next appointment for my right molar?" i thanked the dentist and dental assistant, wished them a happy chinese new year. when i left the office the secretary didn't even bother looking at me, pretended to be studying the schedule book.

so i'm going to see how this crown feels. if it's good, i'll go back and get more dental work done on my other teeth. there's still the question of the cavity by the filling of the upper molar next to the crown. this dentist wants me to turn that tooth into a crown as well, i just want her to redo the filling. we'll see how this one goes. but eventually all my molars are either going to be crowns or implants it seems.

i biked to c-mart down tremont street. before i went to the supermarket though, there was something i always wanted to do: fly the drone from the empty parking area next to c-mart. whenever i pass by that place i always think to myself, "this would be a great open spot to launch the drone." but i've never done it because of the close proximity to both the city and the airport. also on the other side of the turnpike is tufts medical center with its medical helipad, so a lot of restrictions. i had to apply for a flight authorization online this morning, because of the close proximity to logan airport.

whenever i fly my drone it feels like i'm breaking the law. if somebody was with me i might have more courage, but i always fly alone, so i'm usually very anxious. i unpacked the drone and put it on the ground next to me. i whipped out the remote controller and attached the samsung phone, and i was up in the air in 15 seconds. right away the app told me of my flight restriction: no higher than 200ft. i'm actually relieved when i get restricted, but at least now i have some guidelines: as long as i stay below 200ft i'm legal. if there was zero restrictions i'd be even more nervous, don't want to accidentally collide with anything.

once i was up at 200ft i felt more relaxed. i still had to be careful, some nearby buildings were potentially taller than 200ft and i didn't want accidentally hit them. i flew across the south end towards the direction of boston, to see how far i could get. i got as far as berkeley street - 1300ft - before i started seeing signal drops. it was intermittent, and i could've pushed it farther, but i got nervous, and started to bring the drone back. from there i could easily see back bay station, where i normally watch the pride parade from. i already had the drone directly above me, doing circles to check out some nearby buildings, before i got a temperature warning. bear in mind, it's still in the 20's, and probably even colder up in the sky. i finally landed the drone in under 12 minutes of flying. i saw a security guard for the building next door and thought i'd get in trouble, but he was talking on his phone and most likely didn't even see or hear the drone when it finally landed.

instead of c-mart, i went to ming's market instead. it was the most crowd i've seen it in a while. ming was in a bit of a funk during the height of the pandemic, and both my father and i thought it might go under, but it seemed to have weathered the storm, and business is picking back up again, especially now that its chinese customers are more willing to come out and go grocery shopping again. it was crowded because chinese new year is this weekend (technically monday is chinese new year's eve, but most chinese people will celebrate it this weekend for practicality). they sold daily tear-off chinese calendars for $2.99, so naturally i got one. i also looked for a good-sized plastic colander to continue my mung bean sprouting experiments. i ended up getting the biggest one i could find (japanese made no less, $3) with plenty of holes for the roots to grow out from. they also sold safety can openers, which i only just recently learned about - i was tempted to get one but resisted, i have too many kitchen gadgets as it is.

with grocery buying done, i went next door to the chase bank to ask about their special chinese new year calendars. when i came last week, one of them told me i could have a whole box if i wanted. the person i spoke with this time was an asian representative. but the woman i spoke with last week was in her office and saw me and went into the back room to get the calendars. she was going to give me 2 boxes but one was already plenty enough and they were heavy too. she said the only other people interested in these calendars was a chinese church group.

i tied the box of calendars to the back of my bike and slowly pedaled home. i cut through downtown crossing to get to court street then cambridge street to get back home via the longfellow bridge. either way presents challenges: longfellow is shorter, but that east-west stretch of cambridge street is treacherous with no bike lane and buckling asphalt roads; the way back across the mass ave bridge is longer, but i don't have to contend with cars.

instead of going home, i kept going until i arrived at the cafe. we hung up the daily tear-off chinese calendar. while a staple in old chinese homes, i don't think we've ever gotten one of these in all the times we've lived in the US. i had to tear off nearly a month's worth of days to get to the 26th. this calendar is filled with chinese astrology tables and charts, telling you if today is a good or bad day to get married, start a business, or even when to wash clothes. my sister had bought some pizza and was sharing it with my parents. i ended up taking home the leftover slices for lunch. my father also toasted some squash seeds which i ate some.

after i got back home and finished eating the leftover pizza, i biked to market basket to get a few groceries item, before the inevitable crush of people doing their panic buying before the impending snowstorm this saturday. my bungie cords were still draped across my rear bike baskets. since they didn't get caught on my way back from the cafe, i figured i was safe and would take care of them when i returned home. unfortunately one of the cords fell off and wrap itself around my rear cogwheels. i had to pull over onto the side of the road and take care of it, getting black grease stains on my gloves and hands. once the cord was removed, i had to realign the chain because it came off the gears completely. but i managed to fix it before continuing onwards to market basket.

i wasn't very hungry in the evening, those 4 slices of pizza were quite filling. i didn't start making dinner until after 9pm, made myself a bowl of spicy & sour instant chongqing noodles with a poached egg. the broth had good flavor, but it was nothing like the spicy noodles of chongqing.

i watered my mung beans this morning. today is actually the 5th day of my mung bean germination experiment and it seems to be a failure. mung beans have sprouted, but they're not going to grow long enough to eat, i need another week at least to get to that stage. a couple of of reasons why it didn't work out, maybe because i'm using old beans, maybe it's just not warm enough in my house. i'll try again using a heating mat to see if that'll make a difference. but at that stage it might be more economical to simply buy bean sprouts if i'm going factor in the electricity cost to warm the beans for 3-5 days.

had a classic breakfast for lunch: scrambled eggs, kielbasa, homemade sauerkraut, and matcha latte. i updated my bbedit (v14) so it'd be 64-bit compatible, but it screwed up my preferences so i had to manually set everything, including my grep patterns and website URLs.

i also looked into finding a replacement digital asset manager (DAM). i've been using media pro for many years now but that software hasn't been updated since 2018 and phase one had already stopped development. it's not 64-bit compatible so i've kept my macos at mojave (10.14) other i can't use it to see all my photo catalogs. i'm not the only one, there's a bunch of mac-based photographers who are in similar position, always asking online to find a worthy successor. so far none can come close to the ease and simplicity of media pro.

all the DAM's i tried were folder based instead of creating a unified catalog. that right there is already a strike against them. neofinder has a simply interface but too simple, with no ability to show labels below thumbnails. XnView MP does the opposite, show too way too much info, can't seem to turn them off. the UI is also way too cluttered, like they were trying to cram as much into the window as possible.

photo mechanic seems to be an industry standard. it comes closest to media pro in terms of display options and i managed to figure out how to customize the labels. however for some reason doubleclicking on an image opens it up in a large window, but doubleclicking again doesn't close the window, you need to manually close it from the window close button. it seems like such an obvious thing to have, it's really weird it doesn't have that. i will say photo mechanic is fast, i can scroll through a bunch of photos with ease, and slide between large size photos effortlessly.

it's something media pro can't do, with its outdated 32-bit code. media pro also doesn't take advantage of retina resolution, and images look particularly pixelated until you view them at actual size. photo mechanic has a plus version of their software that allows for cataloging: it costs $230. the only one i haven't tried yet is adobe lightroom; i've played with it in the past, it has a slick interface, but the way it catalogs photos is very complicated and uses up a lot of space. in the meantime, seems like i'm stuck with media pro. if i was a better program i'd try to make my own mac app, copying some of media pro's functionality.

i also downloaded a copy of cleanmymac X and cleared about 8GB worth of junk off of my computer. it didn't find any virus or malware, but it did find a copy of adware on my computer which i don't remember installing (i promptly erased).

in the late afternoon i went out to return a few things. temperature was 39 degrees, warm considering how cold it was the past few days. i went to whole foods to return an unused outlet tester and a contour gauge. the contour gauge was supposed to be used to figure out the cutout for the piece of exhaust vent poking out of my bathroom wall, but i'm just going to bend a piece of long wire to figure out the shape. as for the outlet tester, i didn't need one that fancy (or expensive $20), i'll buy a cheap GFCI tester for $5 the next time i visit harbor freight. i noticed whole foods put in some self checkout stations, just like how star market did last week.

afterwards i biked to the UPS store to drop off two boxed packages containing fleece jackets my mother wanted to return.

i tried another type of licorice tonight, the zout. it tasted like licorice, but once you've tried dubbel zout, regular zout just can't compare. these remind me of american black crows licorice: hardy, chewy licorice, biting on them makes them stick to your teeth. the licorice flavor also wasn't very strong, like a mild licorice.

baseball hall of fame announcements was tonight, and david ortiz got in on his first-ballot selection. the news were showing highlights from his red sox career, and it gave me goosebumps reliving the 2004 world series championship season.

for dinner i microwaved the last of my semi-vegetarian frozen meals: general tso tofu this time around. it's actually not bad, but the serving size is so tiny, i want to make my own if i ever have it again, even though it was filling enough that i didn't feel hungry afterwards.

i did one final mung beans watering before going to bed. it doesn't look promising.

i was greeted with a surprise dusting of snow this morning. a dusting is like nature's reminder, "hey, we're still in winter," as if i could forget with the all this cold temperature we've been having. i woke up late because i slept late last night (4am), watching episodes of naked director on netflix. i rinsed my mung beans, used the bathroom, took a shower, then biked to belmont.

i thought the solar panels would be covered in snow but the roof was completely clear.

for lunch my mother made wonton soup.

i helped my father search for 3.2V lithium iron phosphate (LiFePo4) 100Ah batteries. scouring ebay, we came across a good deal on 4x3.2V 100Ah BYD-brand LiFePo4 batteries from california for $300 plus another $55 for shipping. that comes out to about $89 per battery (cell). i then checked aliexpress and we found a deal for 8x3.2V 100Ah LiFePo4 batteries for only $254 with free shipping. it's listed as brand new grade A, but there are a few downsides. for one, it's tall instead of short, but LiFePo4 can be mounted in any direction since there's no liquid inside. the brand is AKESHA which i've never heard of before, and the company seemed to have formed fairly recently, since october, with only a handful of feedbacks. finally, since it's shipping from china, the batteries won't get here until end of march, so 2 more months. but at less than $32 per battery, it's a crazy deal if it's true. with 8 batteries, my father can build 2 rechargeable lithium stations for less than the price of one.

we ended up getting it. aliexpress is a little weird with credit cards, i had to jump through a lot of hoops to get mine verified. my father tried his card first but it was denied. i tried mine and it was also denied. seconds later though, i received a text from the credit card company alerting me to a possible fraud charge and asking me to confirm the transaction, otherwise they'd lock the card. i confirmed it and when i tried using the card a second time, this time it went through.

i spent what was left of the daylight hours in the basement grow room, checking for mealybugs then watering the plants. i found 1-2 mealybugs on the gardenia which i tried with alcohol-dipped cotton swabs. the jasmine on the left front side had some mealybugs last time, and they continued to appear; i tried that with both alcohol and neem oil. finally, the jasmines on the second shelf, both the left and rightmost plants, have mealybugs; those i treated with alcohol cotton swabs. the lemon verbanas and the hot pepper upstairs all have aphids; i sprayed them in the bathoom with insecticidal soap then rinse them off with water. when i watered the gardenia i added some acid-loving fertilizer, and when i watered the orchids i added some orchid fertilizer.

i returned home after dinner. temperature was in the 20's, cold but i'm sort of used to it by now, put on my wool mittens to keep my hands warm. the weather forecast said it's going to snow later in the evening, a coating to 2", boston more likely to be on the low end of that range.

the HQST MPPT 20A solar charge controller arrived soon after i left. my father took it out of the box, the thing was a lot bigger than we expected. even though there were dimension measurements, we just assumed it'd be similar in size to our PWM solar charge controllers (SCC). the HQST is definitely an substantial solar charger, and it even has bluetooth for remote monitoring.

nothing good on television tonight, so i continued watching naked director. my upstair neighbors were blaring their television again, so i gave them a taste of their own medicine by putting my mini dodocool speaker on top of my window casing and blasting my "music" into the ceiling, right where their couch would be.

temperature this morning was in the low 30's, much warmer than yesterday. the streets were coated in salty road dust, i could taste it in my mouth as i biked to belmont. my toothache from yesterday was pretty much gone. i had rolled up pancakes with pork floss, my sister showed up with hailey bringing some donuts.

peanuts i put out yesterday were all gone. i put out some more. later in the afternoon i saw a fat squirrel going to town on the peanuts. apparently there's no stop when it comes to eating, it ate all the peanuts before finally leaving. funny thing is there were also some sunflower seeds but it didn't bother with them. that's probably the same squirrel that's been engorging itself on the suet, before i installed the squirrel-proof feeder.

i knew there were 2 football games today: bills vs. chiefs and rams vs. buccaneers. i knew one was at 3pm, the other 6:30pm. when i saw a bills vs. chiefs game being broadcasted on youtube tv at 3pm, i started watching it. the chiefs were spanking the bills, it looked like what the bills did to the patriots last weekend. with the game nearly over and all but certain the chiefs were going to win, i surfed the channels and discovered the rams vs. buccaneers game was also happening at the same time. how could that be? i kept checking the schedule, it said the bills vs. chiefs game was at 6:30pm, but i'd been watching the game. so i stayed confused for a while, a little disappointed i didn't get to see the rams vs. buccaneers game, but it looked like the rams were going to win anyway, the score was 27-6 in the 4th quarter. but leave it to tom brady to mount a comeback, they managed to tie the game with about 30 seconds to go, but that was enough time for the los angeles to advance the ball close enough to the end zone to kick a field goal to tie. this was the 3rd game this weekend where not only the lower ranked team managed to win, but win in the final seconds with a field goal.

after the rams vs. buccaneers game was over, i switched channels. CBS seemed to be doing a post-game diagnosis of the bills vs. chiefs game, but the footage i was watching on television looked like they game hadn't even started yet. that's when i finally realized the bills-chiefs game i watched all afternoon was actually a rebroadcast of their game from last season. that's why it looked like there was hardly anyone at arrowhead stadium. it was so strange i searched google, "why arrowhead stadium empty" but didn't find any answers. i felt pretty stupid, but it meant there was more football to be had.

we made some more nachos today. my mother helped me cut the vegetables as i grated the cheese. we used jalapeño peppers this time, but my mother said they weren't spicy at all. we managed to finish the whole pan of nachos.

i left soon after dinner, around 6:30pm, so i could get home and watch the game. i had the game streaming on the youtube tv app on my phone, and i listened to it as a pedaled my way home. about 2/3rd of the way back, my phone suddenly shut down, the battery was dead. a combination of battery-intensive live video streaming combined with the cold weather managed to kill the battery even though when i left the house it was still at 65% capacity.

the bills-chiefs game was amazing, like a heavyweight fight between two equally matched opponents. bills would do something, the chiefs answered right back. it was that way throughout the entire game, both teams were unrelenting in their drive to victory. the final few minutes was amazing. just when you thought one team was definitely going to win, the other team answered right back, even though there seemed to be no time on the clock. buffalo seemed to be all but assured of a win when the scored a touchdown with just 13 seconds left on the clock. but mahomes managed to get them close enough to the end zone to not win the game but to tie and send it into overtime. kansas city won the coin toss, they scored a touchdown, josh allen didn't even get a chance to play in overtime. it was also the only game this weekend where the top ranked team managed to win, but barely.

after the game i took a shower and prepared for bed. i watered my mung beans when i first got home, and watered them again before i slept. tonight is day 3. they say sprouts can be ready in 5-6 days. at this pace i highly doubt i will get any edible sprouts by that time.

i noticed it last night when i was brushing my teeth: the gum around my lower right back molar was inflamed. i licked the area with my tongue, hoping it'd heal itself eventually. when i woke up this morning the inflammation still there, and affected my lower molar so that i probably wouldn't be able to chew on the right side of my mouth. outside it was cold, temperature at 18°F, and there were even a few flakes of snow.

i watched on webcam as my parents left the house this morning around 8:40am, only to come back about half an hour later. i didn't know where they went until i remembered they had a flu vaccine appointment at the fresh pond CVS (appointments i booked for them earlier in the week).

i left for belmont around 11:30am. by then the temperature had gone up to 21°F, still cold, but i was dressed warmly. riding the bike, the frigid temperature felt like tiny icy shards poking into my eyeballs. the sun was out though, and all things considered, this is typical new england weather.

first thing i did when i got to my parents' place was refill the empty squirrel buster bird feeder. i feel like this was the work of a squirrel, or perhaps a gang of starlings or sparrows, because they're dirty feeders and there were sunflower seeds everywhere. the suet feeder was fine, now that the squirrels can't get to it, the cakes will last a lot longer. i grabbed some unsalted roasted peanuts i bought from the supermarket and sprinkled a few outside, for the squirrels, although i didn't see them at all today.

my mother fixed me a bowl of noodle soup. i ate gingerly, unable to bite on my right side. i also had some spicy buffalo cream cheese pastries my parents got from the fresh pond trader joe's this morning.

i saw a few of the usual birds at the feeders. a group of juncos (with a few learning how to perch and get to the sunflower seeds), a flighty chickadee grabbing a seed and eating it elsewhere, a male cardinal, and a male downy woodpecker feeding from the suet feeder. my mother says only woodpeckers visit the suet feeder. we used to also get carolina wrens but i haven't seen them in a while, and on special occasions there might be nuthatches.

at one point my gum inflammation popped, which alleviated the pressure and my tooth felt fine again. but after a while it filled up again, and i was back to discomfort.

i help my father buy a MPPT solar charge controller for his future lithium battery project. it's the HQST MPPT 20A controller; i first saw it on ebay but noticed it was available via amazon and slightly cheaper ($71), so we bought it from amazon. we have plenty of solar charge controller, but they're all inexpensive PWM versions, which are not compatible with lithium batteries. the HQST MPPT 20A specifically states it works with lithium batteries as well. if i shipped it to my house i could get it by tomorrow, but we opted to ship it to my parents, so it won't arrive until monday. now we need to 4pcs 3.2V 105/130Ah LiFePO4 battery cells and a BMS controller to manage the batteries.

in the late afternoon was the first of 4 NFL playoff games this weekend, a matchup between the bengals vs. titans. tennessee was number one in the AFC so they had a bye last weekend. the game was close, but cincinnati beat tennessee with a game winning field goal kick, 19-16.

my gums were a bit better at dinner, i could chew on my right side at least, though gingerly. afterwards i biked back to cambridge. temperature was 22°F, about the same as this morning, just no sun to warm me up.

when i got back home i massaged by inflamed gum with the water pik. it hurt, but afterwards it alleviated a lot of the pressure and my jaw started feeling like normal again.

the 2nd night game was between the 49ers and packers. green bay was number one in the NFC so it was their bye week last weekend. they played in bitterly cold temperature, each player a column of condensation. packers were the odds favorite to win - they had the best record in the NFL this season - but san francisco's defense prevented them from scoring. when green bay doesn't score, opponents have a chance to steal a win, and that's exactly what happened. final minutes with a tie, 49ers got the ball and marched it close enough to the end zone for a field goal kick attempt with seconds to spare. their kicker made it, san francisco wins 13-10. it was an amazing football day, both number 1 seeded team lost. i'd love to see the 49ers - and jimmy garoppolo - win it all.

i tried licorice chalk tonight. it tastes even more like good & plenty because of the crunchy shell, but inside was packed with a gooey licorice candy filling. it's okay, but if i had to rank them, i'd put this last, and salmiak rocks about them.

i watered my mung beans when i got back home and watered them again before i went to bed. while inspecting the beans, i noticed not all of them have sprouted, and some beans seem to be stunted. not too much i can do about that, when i return to chinatown on wednesday, i'll try looking for fresher mung beans (fresher meaning more viable to germination).

knowing it was cold, i wasn't motivated to go out today, and spent the entire day indoors. first order of business this morning was water my mung beans. maangchi recommends watering every 2 3 hours for the next 5 days, but that's way too much. just watering twice a day - morning and night - is enough, as long as the beans are wet. i made another serving of egg-sauerkraut-kielbasa for lunch.

in the afternoon i did some household errands. i started by performing a water change in the aquarium. this was a full change, including replacing the activated carbon. i used a toothbrush to spin hidden clumps of hair algae off of the driftwood and anubias roots. i'm still trying to do weekly water changes to reduce the algae population. if i can truly stick to a weekly schedule, i'll definitely have the algae under total control.

i sprinkled some mosquito bits into the dirty aquarium water and watered my plants, all except the thanksgiving cactus. come spring i need to repot that thing into a medium that isn't dirt, like half sand half perlite. feeling a draft by the kitchen door, i noticed cool air was seeping into the house from a crack between 2 floorboards. i sealed it up with some squeezable silicone caulk. finally i replaced the heavy duty aluminum foil on my stovetop; can't remember the last time i did it, must've been a year ago (maybe longer? 1-12/2 year?), the old aluminum was pretty stained and dirty. back when kevin was still living here, i replaced it more often, as he seemed to drip onto the stovetop whenever he cooked, so it was a daily problem.

i was finally done by 4pm. i sat on the couch with some hot tea, enjoying the final minutes of daylight.

tteokbokki (떡볶이)
(1 serving)

2 cups water
1/4 tsp hondashi powder
1 clump of dried seaweed

2-1/2 tbsp gochujang paste
1/2 tbsp hot pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp karo dark corn syrup

10 oz. frozen rice cakes
(1/3 2 lbs. package)

7 oz. fried tofu wedges
(half package)

2 scallions, chopped


make broth over medium heat 15 minutes combining water with hondashi and dried seaweed. discard seaweed, add hot pepper paste mixture, along with rice cakes. stir constantly to keep rice cakes from sticking to pan. midway through add tofu wedges. done when liquid reduced to shiny sauce (about 7 minutes). add scallions.

for dinner i made korean rice cake, my food reward for eating a week's worth of frozen semi-vegetarian meals. but this is semi-vegetarian as well! the combination of rice cake starch, tofu protein, and korean spiciness warmed me up the rest of the night.

later in the evening close to midnight i watered my mung beans one last time. actually, i'd been watering them several times throughout the day, even though i said i only needed to water twice a day. i did it more to check on the germination progress. there's definitely more sprouts now, so we are on course.

i watched benedetta (2021), the paul verhoeven french nunsploitation film. there were some shocking bits, but it wasn't as crazy as i thought it'd be. it mostly comes off highlighting the hypocrisy of 17th-century catholic church. the story takes place in italy, but all the characters speak french (it is a french studio movie after all). charlotte rampling plays the head nun; how a classy actress like her ended up in this movie is a mystery, maybe a chance to work with legendary verhoeven. maybe it's not too strange, she as in zardoz (1974) after all.

i had a typical breakfast lunch - soft scrambled eggs, year-old sauerkraut, and some kielbasa. if you asked me to make my default breakfast meal, that would be it.

supposedly it was suppose to snow overnight, but apparently it was too warm and everything came down as rain. by the afternoon though, the sun had come out. temperature was 37°F which ought to be warm, but it was surprisingly cold, as the temperature continued to drop, hitting the teens by later tonight.

i went out to run errands. first stop was walgreens, to pick up my prescriptions. i somehow managed to get a papercut on the webbing between two fingers. i tried to hide my bloody hand while paying for some cayenne-flavored almonds and peppermint/wintergreen altoids. next i went to the porter square star market to look for boneless chicken thighs. they had none, i left with 2 bags of navel oranges instead.

later in the afternoon i had a craving for cheetos so i went to the nearby star market to get some. while i was there, i checked their meat department and was surprised to find boneless chicken thighs. i bought two packages. in the chip aisle i was going to grab the cheetoes when i realized it was actually cheetos-flavored popcorn, not actual cheetos. i heard there's a global cheetos shortage, i'll need to redirect my cravings to something else.

i ended up snacking on some pretzels while watching the latest episode of peacemaker. i've been pretty good about avoiding junk food but i finally broke my streak. i need to get some healthier junk food - like baby carrots or popcorn. on one of these warm nights i should make some popcorn again (warm because i need to ventilate the house afterwards from all the popcorn smell).

for dinner i heated up another container of meat lover's zoodles. i'm getting used to these partially vegetarian frozen dinners of 300-400 calories.

later in the evening i finally took my soaked mung beans and put them in the steam pot with a layer of old cheesecloth. i'd soaked the cheesecloth in boiling water a few times to sterilize it. i put the steam pot in the warm guest bedroom, covered by an insulated shopping bag to keep the beans in the dark. hopefully in 5 days i'll have some mung bean sprouts to eat.

i woke up at 8am to loud stomping coming from my upstairs neighbors. their lack of empathy and the depth of their inconsideration fuels my hatred for them as well as my violent revenge fantasies. there was no point in sleeping after that. when i looked out the window, i noticed a painting van. apparently they're getting some work done upstairs. at least let me know it's going to be noisy, but that level of human thoughtfulness is beyond their capability apparently.

thus began my wednesday. in the morning the temperature was still in the 30's, as i biked to market basket to get some groceries: eggs, milk, tofu, corn starch, and some more nacho ingredients. to my credit, i didn't get any junk food, just stuck to the basics. when i got back home, i did a load of laundry and made lunch: garlic avocado spread on toasted everything bagel, along with a matcha latte and some snow chrysanthemum tea.

in the afternoon - with the temperature finally in the 40's - i gave my bicycle a tune-up. i re-aligned the front wheel and tried to figure out what was causing the chain skip. i ended up cleaning the clumps of grease from the derailleur sprockets, that probably prevented the chain was catching properly. afterwards i oiled the chain.

i went to star market to get some more boneless chicken thighs on sale before taking the bike on a test ride to the cafe to drop off the chicken. the chain still skipped but not as bad as yesterday. the skipping is happening on the rear sprockets and i can't see what's happening. i was thinking i could mount my gopro on the rear seat stay and have it record so i could playback and diagnose the problem. having a working bike is important since it's my only mode of transportation during the winter.

once again back at home, i watched ghostbusters: afterlife (2021). the movie is well made but the story isn't that good - about egon spengler's grandchildren finding his old ghostbuster equipment and retaking the mantle. the big surprise is the original surviving ghostbusters (murray, aykroyd, hudson) make a cameo at the end, joining forces for the kids to fight gozer. carrie coon is completely wasted as the clueless mom, and even more so is paul rudd, the hapless summer school teacher and coon's love interest, who sort of plays the role of rick moranis.

i did some renovation work of my own today, caulking some gaps in the ceiling molding of the living room. the tube of caulk i was using isn't so good anymore, and i had to squeeze so hard that i almost fainted to get the caulk to come out.

maureen sent me an early birthday gift, told me it was arriving today with instructions to open immediately. i thought maybe she sent me a live plant, but in this weather, anything alive would most definitely freeze to death. when the package finally arrived in the early evening, i opened it up as instructed. the label on the box already gave away the content: licorice international. it was an assortment of licorice: licorice chalk, zout, dubbel zout, salmiak rocks, and turkish peber. i couldn't wait and tried the salmiak rocks. it had the shape and consistency of a snausage dog treat. soft licorice on the outside, slightly salty caramel interior. the taste reminded me a lot of good & plenty, without the pill shape and hard shell.

for dinner i warmed up a bowl of sweet earth cauliflower mac. it sounded delicious but the serving size was so small, it was more like a snack. the only thing i could recognize was a bit of pasta and cheese. it also had cauliflower and sweet potatoes but they sort of melted after getting zapped in the microwave. despite it's small size though and the feeling that i got ripped off, i wasn't hungry afterwards, must be that 9 grams of protein. i had some orange slices afterwards.

i'm attempting to grow my own mung bean sprouts. after looking over a bunch of youtube videos, i came across one that looked the most promising and had the most concise directions. her sprouts were also the plumpest of all the ones i saw. i decided to use my small stainless steel steamer pot. i filled it up 2/3 with beans then left the beans to soak overnight.

i woke up at 8:30am for my 10am dentist appointment near park station boston. when i checked the weather it actually didn't seem bad, temperature in the upper 20's (i was afraid it might be in teens this morning). i left by 9:30am. even though the temperature was "warm," there was unusually strong winds, strong enough to push the bike to the side, strong enough to make me tear up, and riding into a headwind was like riding in sand. to make matters worse, my bike chain kept on skipping and i could only ride it in the 7th gear.

eventually i made it to boston. today's visit was making the dental impression for my crowd. my dentist doesn't tell me anything, i have to ask what they're doing. i also asked about the cavity on the adjacent molar. the dentist still recommends turning it into a crown, which i'm totally opposed. she said a quarter of the tooth is already filling, and she might not be able to patch it successfully, and if it cracks in the future, there's no chance to do a crown, only extraction. what i really need is a second advice, i still don't trust this dentist, feels like she's giving me the hard sell so she can do a crown and make more money. every time i said i want to just do the filling, she found another reason to do a crown instead. so i decided to see what she does with this current crown, if she does a good pain - and i have no future pain - might start trusting her.

anyway, they shot me up with novacaine again, because in order to do the dental impression, she had to do something with my gum which felt like she was packing it with clay. once that had time to harden, they took two silicone mold of the left side of mouth. they only needed one, but they do two in case one of them doesn't work out. earlier the nurse asked me what enamel color i wanted. she gave me two choices, they both looked the same, i picked the whiter one, nobody's going to see it anyway since it's an upper molar. to do the mold, they injected a rubbery compound and then asked me to bite down as it solidified. they sat me up so the bite would be more natural. after a period of waiting, they removed the mold. they did this twice. i asked the dentist what happens if a patient is missing both top and bottom teeth; she said in that case they can do an estimate of what the teeth should look like. once that was done, i was free to go. next appointment is in a week.

once again the dentist told me i couldn't eat for the next 2 hours. that's why i booked a slightly earlier appointment, so i could eat by 1pm. originally i was going to get some pastries from chinatown, but once again i lost my appetite when told i couldn't eat right away. instead i biked down to c-mart to get a few things.

one of the things i was looking for was chinese calendars. disappointingly, c-mart didn't sell any. so afterwards i went to the chase bank across the street. i came here last year to get some money from the ATM when the credit card machines malfunctioned at the chinese supermarkets. they had these special chinese calendars celebrating the year of the ox. so i was hoping they'd have some free calendars celebrating the year of the tiger. this chase bank is always empty even though there's half a dozen associates working there. they were happy to see me, a rare customer. "do you have any chinese calendars?" i asked the woman. "yes we do," she replied, as she opened a closet door. i asked her if i could have two calendars, she gave me a whole stack. "do you own a business?" she asked, and told me she could give me a whole case if i wanted it.

coming back, i set up the gopro on the handlebar to shoot a timewarp video. navigating the curves of the fiedler foot bridge, i crashed my bike when i made a turn on a small patch of ice. i wasn't hurt and the bike was okay, i felt more pain from the humiliation and embarrassment when a jogger who saw the whole thing asked if i was okay. you don't ride a bike as much as i have without falling off everyone once in a while.

the ride back was into a headwind. at one point i nearly decided to give up, thought about ditching my bike and taking the bus back home instead, except there are no bus routes on the charles river, so it forced me to keep peddling, even though at times it felt like i wasn't even moving. going across the mass ave bridge, i saw a bunch of common mergansers in the water. apparently they're winter migrants but i've seen mergansers on the mystic river in the summers.

i finally made it back by 12:15pm, just in time to catch the weather forecast on the news. they told me what i already knew, that with the strong winds the wind chill felt like it was in the teens. afterwards i felt traumatized by the cold, violated by the winds. i bought a bottle of sesame salad dressing that i tucked into one of the side pockets of my messenger bag. when i finally fished it out an hour later, it still felt like ice, that's how cold it was outside.

when 1pm finally came around, i had a tonkotsu instant ramen and a glass of matcha latte. the ramen tasted a little off, and it wasn't until i was nearly finished when i discovered there was a another packet (chili oil) at the bottom of the bowl. at least the matcha latte was good, i'll need to get more milk tomorrow, when the temperature is supposedly be in the upper 40's. i went to star market briefly to get some chicken thighs and navel oranges on sale. that'd be the last time i'd go out for the day.

i finished watching green knight, a movie i had in my queue since august. it's pretty good but i didn't understand the ending nor various parts of the movie, so i had to go online and have it explained to me.

for dinner i tried a sweet earth frozen meal, general tso's tofu. did i accidentally buy a bunch of frozen vegetarian meals last week? i think i did. it was a quick meal, just 5-1/2 minutes in the microwave. once again, the serving was tiny, and just 360 calories. but earlier i snacked on some cheese and crackers, so i wasn't that hungry. it did not taste like general tso's anything, but it was tasty. i could probably make this on my own and have it taste 1000% better.

while taking a shower, i noticed pain on my right shin. it took me a second to realize it was from the fall earlier this morning. i must've bashed my shin into the bike frame when i crashed. i didn't notice any bruising, just glad i didn't break anything.