i biked down to market basket in the late morning to get some ingredients for the century egg & pork instant pot congee i wanted to make for dinner. the most important ingredient was to find bone-in pork for making the savory bone broth. my father suggested i should look for short ribs, but they didn't have any, so i was left with regular spareribs (bone-in country style bottom pork spare ribs to be precise), which turned out great, since they were also the cheapest cuts.
for lunch i made an english muffin sandwich stuffed with garlic guacamole, smoked virgnia ham, american cheese, and egg. i cooked the egg in the t-fal one egg wonder frying pan.
i also marinated the spare ribs in some salt and put it in the fridge, as the recipe i was using didn't seem flavorful enough.
in the early afternoon i brought my bike onto my backyard porch so i could fix it. the chain skipping is even worse now, not so much on flat roads but impossible to climb any hills without dangerous chain skips. i couldn't remember the last time i replaced the chains and figured i'd start there. using a ruler, i measured the length of 24 links, which should be 1 ft exactly, but there was so much stretch on my chain i easily went beyond 12 inches.
i couldn't use the old chain as a reference to figure out how long i should make the new chain since there was so much stretch. instead i used the sheldon brown method, which is wrap the new chain around the largest chainwheel and the largest rear sprocket and have the chain overlap by one full link. i marked the location where i should cut and used the chain breaker to shorten the chain, using a pair of missing link linkages to connect the chain together.
pedalling the upside down bike, the new chain kept rubbing up against the front derailleur cage. i spent some time adjusting the derailleur, at one point the shifter came loose and i had to fix that first before i could tighten the cable. no matter what i did, i couldn't get the front derailleur adjusted properly. maybe it's a shifter (SRAM) and derailleur (shimano) mismatch, but i can only engage 2 gears, not all 3. in the end i figured 2 chainring is better than nothing, and i usually ride the middle chainring anyway, most of my shifting is on the rear freewheel.
with the bike newly fixed, i decided to take it out for a ride to test the new chain and gearing. i left the house by 3:30pm with two containers of sichuan paocai from my paocai jar to give to my 2nd aunt who i knew was at the cafe. immediately the chain was skipping, worse than before, now it was happening on flat roads as well. maybe the rear derailleur cable needed to be tighten as well. i kept shifting until i found a combination that didn't skip - the largest chainring in the front, 3rd gear in the back. even then i rode gingerly, didn't want to apply too much pressure and fall off the bike from a chain skip.
at the cafe my mother gave me some scallion bread she had made because she though my godmother was going to stop by the cafe today (she didn't). my mother gave both containers of paocai to my 2nd aunt. i returned home by 4pm.
before settling in, i went outside one last time, to buy a mega million and power ball tickets from the liquor store. the owner wasn't there, so i wasn't greeted with a, "good luck, my friend," as i left the store.
later, while examining photos i took of my bike repair, i realized it wasn't the chain that was the issue, but rather the chainring itself, with a lot of teeth worn down to the nub. i remember doing a crankset replacement before and i searched through my blog but the only record i have is from back in 2009 when i replaced the crankset on my old bianchi bike. it seems the crankset on my trek utility bike is still the original crankset. i have however replaced the rear freewheel on two occasions (2011 and 2016, every half decade), and did remove the crankset once before but just to check the bottom bracket length (2012). maybe if i adjust the rear derailleur i could fix the skipping issue, otherwise i'll need to replacement the crankset. it's not a big deal but it's hard to work outside during the winter and repairing the bike indoors is a dirty affair (i could try the basement).
century egg & pork congee
1.8 lbs. bone-in spare ribs
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
3/4 cup short-grain rice
6 1/2 cups water
3 century eggs, chopped
3.5 oz. package pickled radish
marinate pork with salt for 6 hours or leave overnight in fridge. blanch pork in boiling pot of water for 3 minutes. add rice, water, ginger, and pork to instant pot and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes. let cool naturally (natural release) for 20 minutes before venting remaining pressure. remove pork, discard bone, shred meat. season with salt, sesame oil, and ground white pepper before returning to instant pot. medium sauté t thicken congee, add chopped century eggs, shredded pork, pickled radish, and scallions. once desired consistency reached, serve.
i blanched my salted pork before adding it the instant pot, which i already added the rice, water, and ginger. i left it to cook on high pressure for 35 minutes. the instant pot has some awful user interface: the pressure button isn't actually for pressure cooking, it's for selecting the level of pressure; to do a pressure cook you actually press the manual button.
when they say "cook for 35 minutes," they don't tell you that it means you first have to wait 20 minutes or so for the pressure to build up before cooking, so the total time was nearly an hour. i then waited an additional 20 minutes for the pressure to slow ("natural") release, which continued to cook everything as the pressure slowly diminished.
i took out the pork, was at this point was practically fall off the bone. i tasted a small piece, just as i feared, it was pretty bland. i put the spare ribs in a bowl and removed the bones before shredding the pork. i then seasoned everything with salt, sesame oil, and white ground powder. i tasted the pork again, much better.
i chopped up 3 century eggs. i've never worked with century eggs before, this was my first time. i'm not a fan, with the exception of when it's a congee ingredient. i would never eat a century egg as-is, i find it kind of revolting. the translucent dark "egg white" i can tolerate, but the slimy green "egg york" does not look appetizing at all. plus these eggs have a funky smell that would otherwise warn you it wasn't edible.
i tossed the shredded pork and chopped century eggs back into the instant pot with the bone broth congee, along with some chopped scallions and a package of pickled radish. i then put the instant pot on medium sauté to thicken the congee before it was ready to serve.
by then it was well after 10pm and i was pretty hungry. i could've easily eaten the whole thing, but limited myself to just a large bowl. i totally forgot to have some of my sichuan paocai, which was one of the reasons i was making congee in the first place. i think i was just too hungry to think of anything other than congee.
the final result was a success, a congee with several layers of savoriness, from the bone broth, to the century eggs, to the seasoned pork, this was some high level comfort food. it's pretty easy to make, and you don't even need the century eggs or pickled radish, pork congee by itself would be a good meal, but when you add the other ingredients it takes it to another level.
after i finished, i scooped out the leftover congee from the instant pot and filled 2 quart-size plastic yogurt containers, i have enough for 2 more servings. this recipe was so successful, i'm thinking about recreating it at my parents' place (with their larger 8-qt instant pot) this weekend.
in the late evening i checked the mega million numbers. once again, not a single match. power ball is tomorrow.
for lunch i had some sesame paste soup, avocado toast, sichuan paocai, and the last of the leftover drumsticks. even though i thought about it, it was too windy to fly the drone. i spent the afternoon making a few edits to the google sheet, snacked on black melon seeds, and watched some television (either news about the fortress DC preparation for biden's inauguration or the life below zero marathon). steve mcqueen's thomas crown affair was playing on pluto tv, my father told me the story of how in high school he chased after steve mcqueen on his motorcycle when mcqueen was in taiwan shooting the sand pebbles (1966). he chased him all the way to the grand hotel, where he finally got an autograph. that lead me down a rabbit hole of cold war pilot defections from china.
for dinner there was salted pork, eggplants, string beans, and more sichuan paocai. i biked home afterwards, my chains skipping when i tried to go uphill, i'll need to take a look at that tomorrow.
i had sweet buttercup squash porridge for lunch in belmont. afterwards i examined all the plants in the house for insect pests. i sprayed neem oil extract on the orchids and hot peppers and small potted jasmines in the bathtub. in the basement i sprayed neem oil on the cactus tips and spot treated the gardenia and larger potted jasmines. aphids like the tender new shoots of the cactuses, while mealybugs like to hide in the jasmine and gardenia leaves. i only saw one potted jasmine with some mealybug crusts in a branch which i sprayed. basically, wearing just trying to keep the plants alive until the weather gets warm enough again that we can put them back outside.
i went to the backyard in the afternoon to fly the drone. i wasn't planning on it because it was so windy, but my sister was home with her dog and i wanted to see if hailey would notice the drone. she only glanced at it briefly when it was on the ground (she probably though it was a sprinkler toy) and then didn't pay any attention to it when it was in the air. i didn't go very far or very high, up to 200ft maximum as i didn't want the wind to blow the drone away. windy conditions make the drone louder than usual (as it fights to counteract the breeze), which in turn might attract more attention. my dji fly app did freeze up a few times though, not sure why even though i was within eyesight of the drone. i don't think it's a drone (hardware) issue, more like a software issue, maybe the controller is not 100% compatible with my pixel 3XL phone (even though on their website it said it was). i heard that putting in the phone in plane mode helps with the reception. when i brought the drone in for a land, the moment it was about to touch down, it suddenly attracted the attention of hailey who ran up to the drone to intercept it. i was able to shoo her otherwise, otherwise she'd get hurt from the still spinning propellers.
the browns-chiefs game was in the afternoon, i thought it'd start later. i was rooting for cleveland and they played well, but a costly turnover robbed them of a touchdown in the first quarter and kansas city scored just enough points to run out the clock in the second half to win the game. i love this browns team, i'll root for them again next year. patrick mahomes suffered a concussion in the 2nd half. the takedown didn't even look that bad, but maybe he got some whiplash. his legs were wobbly when his teammates picked him up and he had a look on his face that he didn't know where he was. i'm not a mahomes fan, but it was scary and not something i wished had happened. now his start for next sunday might be in jeopardy, in that case the bills are in a good position to win the AFC.
i brought ingredients for making korean street toast for dinner. my mother was cooking with me because i never made 3 sandwiches at the same time and i wasn't fast enough for her liking. i'm not a fan of korean street toast, but my mother was curious to try it, and i needed to use up my ingredients. she helped me chop the vegetables, toast the bread in the toaster oven, and cook the ham with melted cheese. i think i was more directing than actually cooking. the end result were some messy sandwiches.
i biked home after dinner. the buccaneers-saints game had already started. i was rooting for the new orleans, as i don't want brady to advance any further in the playoffs. but the saints weren't sharp, throws kept on getting dropped, and towards the end drew brees kept getting picked off. this may also be brees' last game, as he's eyeing retirement, which is the rumor that's been floating around. tampa bay won the game, i hope green bay can take care of them next sunday. i do not want to see brady in the super bowl!
my belgium double salt licorice arrived today in the mail. i know i'm not supposed to eat black licorice because they cause high blood pressure, but they're so good, maybe in moderate, they're my secret vice. it beats buying them locally at cardullo's in harvard square, where they're more expensive. these i paid $15 for 4 packages of venco double salt (6.1 oz.). my ultimate favorite is tyrkisk peber, maybe i'll get them next time.
after the game i took a shower. i can't wait to go to bed, where i can continue reading the doors of eden, the new adrian tchaikovsky novel. his children of time is one of the best scifi stories i've ever read, so naturally i was very excited about his new book, which i didn't know was out.
pouring rain started in the middle of the night while i was sleeping. i was expecting this and decided to sleep in a bit, wait for the rain to stop by around noontime before heading over to belmont. but my father called me around 10:20am, said he could give me a ride. we agreed he'd come at 11:30am, giving me an hour to get ready. by the time my mother called 30 minutes later, i was already ready to go, so my father came to pick me up. even though it was pouring rain this morning, by that point the rain had pretty much stopped and i could've biked in the relatively warm weather if i wanted to.
i had some rice porridge and pastry wrapped sausages for lunch. i helped my father refine our 2021 accounting spreadsheet, figuring out ways to automate the data collection. my mother was in her bedroom watching korean drama on the imac. when the clouds started clearing up, she went out for a walk, returning home soon afterwards when the sky suddenly turned dark and she got caught in some rain.
my money had finally went into my td bank account. so the way my finances work is i use my amazon credit card for just about everything, since i can earn points with purchases. i don't use my td bank debit card at all except as a credit card backup. i pay my amazon card directly through a bank transfer, and likewise with my eversource utilities, and my paypal. i also use my bank account to pay for a few other things, like taxes, but i'll enter those info when i get to them. that's pretty much the extent of it, i thought there'd be more hooks to untangle. i also bought a box of checks online, the cheapest i could find, about $6. i hardly ever write checks anymore, except to my upstairs neighbor steve to pay for my share of the quarterly water bill. another thing i noticed yesterday was td bank opened a credit card account in my name without asking me first. i thought this was a little weird and wanted to go back and get them to cancel it, but the credit limit was very high, and it might come in handy in an emergency (though i doubt they'd let me withdraw the full amount in a single transaction). this is most likely because i deposited a large amount of money yesterday, and the credit limit reflected that (a high roller i am not). i'll keep the card for the time being, but might go back and ask them about it.
we didn't have rice for dinner. instead, my mother made a bowl of glass noodles while my father and i were outside barbecuing drumsticks. tonight was the best night to do it, as tomorrow and monday the temperature will be colder. my mother had marinated the drumsticks at least a day, and we grilled them on high heat, 10-15 minutes per side, before slathering on the sweet chili sauce and cooking them a few minutes more on low heat for the sugar to caramelize a bit.
after dinner my father gave me a ride home. after a shower, i settled in for a night of football. earlier there was a rams-packers game. green bay was coming off of a bye week, and you didn't need to be a genius to know that they were the favorite to win. no surprise when they eventually did win, 32-18. the evening game was between the ravens-bills. i really like buffalo, i'm hoping either the bills or the browns to win it all. the two teams were evenly matched, and the score stayed 3-3 in the first half. the wind seemed to be the deciding factor, as both teams flubbed throws and missed field goal kicks. once the bills got a touchdown in the 3rd quarter, that gave them some breathing room. when lamar jackson threw a pick six, that seemed to have broken baltimore's will to win. jackson suffering a concussion was the nail in the office. raven's backup quarterback put up a valiant effort, but buffalo's defense was legit and put an end to raven's season. final score was 17-3.
at some point during the evening i slipped out to the liquor store to buy a powerball ticket before they closed. "take care, my friend!" the clerk said to me as i left. i've always wondered if he's indian or pakistani. whenever i thought somebody was indian, they always turned out to be pakistani, so if i had to guess, pakistani. anyway, when the drawing came at 11pm, i didn't match a single number, just like yesterday with the mega millions drawing.
being fleeced by citizens bank must've gotten into my subconscious because i had trouble falling asleep last night. when i woke up this morning, i got dressed and rode my bike down to harvard square to the nearest citizens bank branch. i would've been happy to stay, if they could only get rid of the maintenance fee. but it was something they neither couldn't or wouldn't do. the people who worked there were nice. the bank representative i spoke with said i could upgrade to the no fee checking account, but i needed to have a $25k minimum, something i couldn't do. she also recommended that i could do some sort of autopay where every month i could make an auto deposit; i thought of the same solution, but in the end it was too much hassle. i fled to citizens from bank of america because of the fees, and now i was fleeing citizens as well.
at they had to do was cut me a catch. for whatever reason - even though there were 4 employees - there only seemed to be a single computer that was capable of creating a check. unfortunately the teller on that computer was helping a chatty old lady, and i waited patiently for her to finish up before they finally gave me my check.
next i walked down to the nearby td bank branch and told them i wanted to open an account. technically they're seeing customers by appointment only it seems, but the representative told me to scan the QR code from a poster and enter my info. as soon as i did, nicholas was able to see me right away. while sitting down at the desk, i suddenly remembered i used to have a td bank account - created back in november 2015 - which i cancelled in january of 2020, just a year ago. nicholas was able to find my info in their database, which saved me some time. he asked if i was a harvard professor. i was flattered he thought i looked the part, but i told him i was definitely not a professor.
i signed up for the td beyond checking account, which had no fees as long as i kept $2500 in my account. everything's done electronically these days, so nicholas sent me a text with a link that i clicked on to see several different edocuments i had to sign online. once that was done, he gave me a few complimentary checks and a debit card. this was a much nicer card than the one i got before, this one was actually plastic with a microchip with embossed numbers and letters. i was able to use my username from before, but nicholas created a temporary password since i forgot my old one. he took my check from citizens bank (a pretty sizable amount) and deposited it into my new account. with that i was finally done. td bank is also famous for their swags, but they didn't have anything at the moment, the only other thing i left with was a pen.
i cut across harvard yard to get to my bike (tagging a few pokestops along the way). by the time i got home it was already 12:40pm. i logged into my td bank account to change my temporary password and to sign up for estatements so i wouldn't get billed $1 for paper statements. my citizens bank check was still pending (not surprising, given the amount i was depositing).
for lunch i made another korean street toast. i used less cabbage and carrots this time, the sandwich still came out a mess, soggy on the bottom, washed my hands a few times just to eat it.
in the afternoon i went out to the liquor store and bought two mega millions tickets (one for me, one for my sister). i saw people moving into renee's first floor apartment, my new neighbors, a couple it seems, a man and a woman. i'll have to introduce myself at some point.
in the evening i made kenji lopez-alt's crispy roast potatoes. the recipe called for 4 pounds of potatoes, i used up the entire 5 pounds of russet. i tossed the cooked potatoes in 5 tbsp of garlic-infused bacon fat then baked them in the oven for an hour, turning them a couple of times so they could brown evenly. the final result was okay, but i wasn't going to finish 5 lbs. of starch in a single night. having the oven on did warm up the house a bit, and the garlic-infused bacon grease left a savory smell in the house (if you like that sort of smell).
the jiu niang was finally ready today, after it's had 25 hours to ferment in the instant pot. there was definitely more liquid in the jars and the rice was sort of floating. when i opened the jar there was a distinctive jiu niang alcohol aroma, something i didn't quite get when i slow fermented. i scooped out a small spoonful to give it a taste: sweet was the dominant flavor, with a slight sour note, but nothing like when i used the crushed yeast ball to ferment. that means jiu niang powder definitely makes a different. i thought it could be sweeter so i put the jars back in the instant pot and left it to ferment for another 6 hours.
korean street toast
2 slices thick white bread
1/2 handful carrots, julienned
1 handful cabbage, chopped
green onions, chopped
dash of korean chili powder
2 dash of salt
1 tsp half & half
1 tsp sugar
toast the bread in butter, set aside. chopped vegetables and mix together with pepper, chili powder, salt. mix with eggs and some half & half. sauté egg vegetable mixture, form into rectangle then make into two squares. cook on both sides. stack cooked vegetables egg onto one slice of bread, add sugar. cook ham add cheese to melt. layer ham & cheese onto sandwich and squirt some mayonnaise and ketchup.
i finally made korean street toast today. the hardest part was chopping the carrots into matchsticks, i think my carrots were just too small. the recipe called for half a handful of chopped carrots and a full handful of chopped cabbage, but i went way overboard, probably had a cup of carrots and easily 2-3 cups of cabbage. when i cooked the chopped vegetables with the eggs, it was barely holding together, it was so full of vegetables. the recipe didn't call for it but i added a dash of half and half to make the eggs puffier. the final result was essentially a thick omelette sandwich with a bit of ham enhanced with cheese, mayonnaise, and ketchup. it was a mess to eat, and the bottom half of the sandwich was all soggy from having the omelette stacked on top of it. it was okay, but nothing to write home about. i'll try again tomorrow, definitely use less vegetables. why this would be popular in korea i have no idea, it doesn't seem particularly korean but mainly because i associate korean food with either spicy or meaty.
the one good thing about korean street toast is because of all the vegetable ingredients, i had a really nice poop afterwards. maybe they should call it, "korean colon cleansing sandwich."
i went out briefly in the afternoon to grab some grapes and clementines on sale. it was raining, i had an umbrella, but it wasn't necessary. there was also a sale on schweppes seltzers, 3 cases for $9. i had to haul everything back by hand, thankfully i live close otherwise my arms were going to give out.
in the evening my father contacted me, said he'd bring over some pan-fried beef buns they made for dinner. when he arrived, i gave him a bag of supplies: clementines, grapes, heysong soda, melon seeds, rose flavored kombucha, and a jar of jiu niang. he must've misheard me because while i went back outside with cases of seltzer, i watched as he drove off. standing in the rain, i quickly called him back to pick up the soft drinks.
i tried the jiu niang at the 29 hours fermentation mark. it was even sweeter, it didn't need anymore fermentation. unlike slow fermentation, fast heated fermentation speeds up the alcohol production. given the choice, i would use a slow fermentation if i'm looking to make sweet jiu niang. if i wanted to create rice wine, then a fast heated fermentation is the way to go. if i want to experiment more, i realize i never tried jiu niang using steamed rice, i've always just cooked it like normal rice in the pressure cooker. that would mean i need to get a steaming container for the instant pot.
i had the pan-fried beef buns for dinner, they were still warm. i dip them in some vietnamese garlic chili sauce. my father also included a container of cold adzuki bean soup.
i discovered today that citizens bank has been bilking me with $10 maintenance fees for the past 2 years. i checked my statements, they only did it 4 times but that's 4 times too many. they changed their checking account rules recently so that you had to make a deposit into your account every month otherwise they take a $10 maintenance fee. just by dumb luck i was able to make monthly deposits except for a few times, hence the fees. i'm going down to the harvard branch tomorrow to see if they can get rid of the fees. if not, i'm taking my bank business to td bank.
actually, it doesn't matter what citizens bank does (unless they can clear the fees from the 4 times they already charged me, which i doubt), i'm switching banks regardless. td bank has a checking account with interest (you just need to keep $2500 in your account; citizens bank has something similar but you need to keep a balance of $25,000). that particular td bank account also allows me to make free withdrawals from non-TD bank ATM's. citizens bank has such a small footprint, like when i used to go to NYC, there are no citizens branches there, so i needed to withdraw cash in advance. this hidden fee shenanigan is the last straw. i've been a loyal customer for almost 11 years, and this is how they treat me.
the constricted neck of the sichuan paocai jar is perfect for keeping the floating vegetables submerged. the fido jar also has a constricted neck but it's higher up, and my brine level doesn't reach that high, so the vegetables float to the top and the top layer might be dry. to compensate, i shake the fido jar whenever i can, to sort of sink the vegetables a little bit. with the sichuan paocai jar i don't have to do any of that. the paocai is definitely fermenting. i smelled something awful today that i thought was the trash (even though i emptied it last night) until i realized it was the burping paocai jar. the more burps the better, likewise the stronger the smell the greater the taste.
in the late morning i biked down to the porter square star market to get some fried chicken and some fruits on sale (grapes, clementines, honeycrisp apples). i washed down my fried chicken lunch with some hey song sarsaparilla soda.
afterwards i made another batch of jiu niang. i've lost track which batch this is, i'm going by date now and what special steps i'm taking. this particular version i'm using a pack of expired angel leaven (2017) but instead of slow fermenting for 3 days, i'm quick fermenting in the instant pot for 24 hours. this will let me know once in for all if the fermented glutinous rice will turn sour because i'm using a yeast ball or leaven powder. after this i will have tried every iteration of jiu niang making.
i read some advice online that says whenever i go into another room, always take something that belongs in that room, and vice versa. that seems like a good way to declutter the house so i've been following that advice this week. there's still clutter, but i think overtime the house will slowly get more organized.
i went to market basket in the early afternoon. there was only 6 people in line, and i made it inside in less than a minute of waiting. i gathered the ingredients for making korean street toast, a promising recipe i found online. my sister texted me, said there was some "beef hand pies" at the cafe if i wanted to pick them up. after i got home i called my mother, told her i already had leftover fried chicken i needed to finish, she said i could come by tomorrow when she was making a fresh batch.
what i really wanted to do was to fly the drone today. it was the last sunny day before clouds roll in tomorrow for the next few days. i walked down to the community garden since that was a good launching spot. i realized it's not actually ideal. there were actually a lot of obstacles and the paths were muddy, however nobody was around, so found a clear spot and sent my drone into the air. unfortunately i didn't check my location carefully enough, and the drone flew right into the branches of an overhead tree. i watched as it sputtered and waited for it to crash to the ground, but it actually regained its balance and i quickly landed it. i examined the drone, by some miracle the props weren't damaged (just a few light scratches). so i moved out away from the back of the garden to get some better clearance and put the drone safely back in the air.
so my plan was to see how far i can fly, but the shot i wanted was to circle harvard's memorial hall. when i reached the chemistry lab (1900 ft away) my RC signal was down to 2 bars and i didn't want to risk pushing the drone any farther and losing connection altogether. i was still 700 ft away from memorial hall. i hovered in the air, took some photos, and decided to come back. during that time, my dji fly app crashed twice. it didn't freeze, it just bounced me out of the app. i was able to go right back in, but it was weird.
i think if i really want to circle memorial hall, a better (closer) place to launch would be cambridge common. another great place would be from sacramento field. i'd have a better view of the sky, which in theory means less obstruction and perhaps a longer distance. the only reason why i didn't try flying from there is there are more people walking around the perimeter tracks. but worth a try the next time i fly from the neighborhood.
i decided to take a detour and fly over my house to get a few photos before finally flying back to the community garden. while i was there a woman actually came into the garden. i'd never seen her before, she seemed to be doing a survey of the garden, inspecting each plot carefully (maybe she lost something). after she did a tour of the gardens she left. once she was gone i bought the drone down. once again, if i can avoid it, i rather not land the drone on my hand. instead i put it down on the dirt path. i was afraid the prop blades would hit the ground, but when it lands it comes in very gently. i packed up my drone and returned home.
the big news today was the second impeachment of trump by the house of representative. i basically had the tv on the whole day, turned to some news channel. when we got closer to the actual voting, all the major networks broke in with breaking news coverage. it was a forgone conclusion that trump would be impeached since the democrats have the majority in the house. the question was how many republicans would defect and join the impeachment vote as well? the answer was 10, while 197 other republicans decided what trump did didn't warrant an impeachment.
what happens now is a bit more murky. senate republican majority leader mitch mcconnell has already said he wouldn't reconvene the senate to take up the impeachment trial before trump leaves office. after that democrat chuck schumer becomes new senate majority leader, and he gets to decide when and if an impeachment trial will happen. it's a little no-win for the democrats, because if they do have the trial, it takes away attention from biden's new administration. but if they don't have one, then it means trump escapes punishment for causing insurrection against the US government. democrats might push the trial until after the first 100 days, but by that point the momentum might be lost, as people start to forget about trump. or maybe trump will continue to be a pest while out of office, in which case an impeachment trial is very much a reality.
at the 6 hours mark, i opened a jar of fermenting jiu niang. there's was some liquid at the bottom but when i took a sniff there was no discernable smell other than that of wet rice.
when early evening came i ate some more fried chicken. my sister was asking me if i got a powerball ticket (jackpot now at $550 million) so i went to the liquor store around the corner and bought two tickets, one for me and one for her.
later in the evening i finished the rest of the fried chicken. all that grease finally caught up to me and i ended up with explosive diarrhea. after a shower i felt better and ate an apple.
it took a while to find out the powerball numbers, since the powerball website had crashed, too many people logging in try to get the numbers. my sister had two matches while i only had one, neither of which qualified for cash prizes. friday is the mega millions drawing with a jackpot of $750 million.
before going to bed, i checked on the jiu niang once more, after 12 hours of heated fermentation. not much had changed since the 6 hours mark, maybe a little more liquid at the bottom, but when i opened the jar there was no smell and the cooked rice grains were still whole. i sampled some rice, bland flavor, no sourness. i take that as a good sign. also on the glass are the mycelium of the jiu niang fungus. that's also a good sign that things are happening even if i can see or taste it just yet.
i ate the leftover shaobing from last night with a mug of hot chocolate for lunch before biking down to chinatown to get some licorice black melon seeds. i didn't bother calling my parents to ask them if they needed anything because i knew they'd try to talk me out of going. i left by 1:30pm, a little late, but i figured it'd be a quick trip, a little more than an hour.
today was the perfect day for a bike ride, temperature in the 40's and sunny. even though it was still cold, we're actually running 4° above normal for the month of january. i just wore a pair of blue khakis, didn't need to double layer. i readjusted my bike seat before going, had it perfect. i discovered i have a pretty sensitive butt, if the seat is just a fraction of a degree off, i can instantly sense it with my posterior.
the ride into boston was uneventful. with so many people still working from home, not a lot of people are out on the roads and i didn't run into too many other bikers. it took 28 minutes to arrive at ming's market, and less than 15 minutes of browsing before i paid and left. i've gone to ming's so many times, i'm starting to recognize the different cashiers but i don't think they recognize me, especially not with my facemask and new haircut. what i really want are tamarind candy and candied ginger, neither of which ming carry anymore.
i biked into chinatown and parked because i wanted to check out that new supermarket i saw last week. turns out, it's more like a small grocery store. they were busy but only because the c-mart on lincoln street closed back in may. i then wandered around chinatown on foot a bit because it's been ages since i've been here. i actually walked down to lincoln street to see the closed c-mart for myself. later i read online that a developer had bought up the parking garage property and wants to tear it down and build a bigger building. it's devastating when a neighborhood loses a supermarket. true, there's the other c-mart on herald street and ming's market on washington street, but those are on the outskirts, more south end than chinatown. there's just jia ho supermarket, which is tiny by supermarket standards. while wandering around, i also another new small grocery store. since i was there, i decided to get a vietnamese sandwich for dinner. when i went inside the store, the owner told me they were sold out of sandwiches for the day.
i finally left chinatown by 2:45pm. since traffic was light, i did some illegal riding down one-way streets so i could get back to the public garden to get home. instead of taking the charles river bike path across the MIT bridge, i went the other way, and crossed over longfellow, riding along the pedestrian sidewalk. i thought maybe that way would be faster, but it took the same amount of time, 34 minutes for me to get back home (i did stop briefly on the bridge to admire the boston skyline and take a photo, and i also took photos of the trophy collection underneath the longfellow bridge).
unfortunately by the time i rode home, the bike seat was out of alignment again, and my butt was not too happy. i don't know what it is, maybe i'm just too heavy, and my weight is tilting the seat no matter how much i tighten the bolt. at this point i might get a new bike seat, this one is just too much of hassle. my old ripped-up (smaller) bike seat never had this problem.
i finally got home by 3:15pm, nearly 2 hours.
my government stimulus check arrived today, $600. i think it actually got here a while ago, but was sent to my upstairs neighbors by accident. i received a large stack of mail this morning (not the regular delivery time), which makes me think that was the most likely possibility. $600 will probably be good for groceries for a few months. when the democrats take over the government in about a week, there's a promise of an additional $1400 of stimulus.
it was cold in the house but i was too stubborn to turn up the heat or to even bother wearing socks so my feet was cold the whole day. finally when 6pm came across my scheduled heating kicked it, but it took probably close to 2 hours before my house was toasty enough that i felt warm. for dinner i was lazy so i just heated up some frozen french bread pizza. tomorrow i need to make a grocery stop to get some food.
my parents had gone to baifu this morning. had i known i would've gone as well, but they left by 10am, and i was still in bed at that time. when i biked to belmont they'd just come back. i had thick noodles for lunch along with some youtiao. after we finished eating i went outside with my father to take his passport photo. the grey sky was perfect lighting. my mother stood in the back with a white poster board background. i also used another poster board as a reflector to take some shadow away from the face.
while we were eating my mother told me the imac was broken. she could hear sounds but the screen was blank. even after restarting the computer, the fan would turn on meaning the imac had booted up but there was nothing on the screen. so i brought out the imac and my father and i took it apart to see if we could fix it. having taken it apart before when we replaced the hard drive with an solid state drive, this time around was much easier, although i did have to consult an imac teardown video. when we removed the LCD screen we saw what the problem was: the video cable behind the screen was only partially plugged in. while it failed now is a mystery (a miracle that it even worked for this long), but after plugging it back in, the screen started up just fine. we put the computer back together and gave it back to my mother who was waiting in her bedroom.
i flew the drone again, to fresh pond, across the farm, around burbank school, then back to the house. i'm trying different techniques, one of which is flying sideways and filming forward. the app did freeze one time, while i was over the fancy fresh pond pool house, but after waiting for the phone to become unstuck, i got back into the app and regained control of the drone. total flight distance was 2.9km (1.8 miles).
flying in the air gives me a better appreciation spatial distances. when i'm on the ground, it's a completely different feeling than when you're in the air. one thing that's really surprising is how close everything seems from the sky, but seem farther away from the ground. when your on the ground you can't see your destination until you arrive, but 400ft in the sky you can see everything. there are also no traffic in the sky, everything is just a straight distance away. if i wasn't so worried about losing the drone, it's actually kind of tranquil flying overhead. there's also a voyeuristic component, since it's virtually impossible to see the drone when it's that high. even if you have amazing hearing, trying to pick it out from the the air is impossible unless it's lower to the ground. it really does feel like a spy plane.
all the orchids in the bedroom seem to have mealybugs. it's not an infestation, just a few, but something to keep an eye on. i brought everything into the bathtub and sprayed them with neem oil, as well as the chili pepper plant from the basement (that one has a touch of aphids, but father has been spraying when i'm not around). the mealybugs on the orchids like to congregate on the flower stems, i haven't seen them anywhere else. hopefully some weekly neem oil treatment will kill them off.
my mother found a passport photo that my father took before they went to taiwan that he can use for his passport renewal. not only is it a better photo, but it means i don't have to fix the one i have, which i realized was going to be difficult because the background wasn't a uniform color. later i realized because i was using a 28mm lens, the portrait didn't look flattering; i should've used a longer 85-100mm lens for better portraiture. hopefully i'll remember that for next time.
my father made another batch of shaobing for dinner. this time he used a lot of buttered dough mixed in with the regular dough to give them puffier layers after we watched a few shaobing making youtube videos. the ones he made on saturday were more like dried shells, these new ones had some chew on the inside.
i biked home after dinner. the more i bike, the better endurance i have. today was the easiest ride back ever, i wasn't even tired, just leisurely pedaled back to cambridge.
i thought maybe this morning i could assemble my sichuan paocai but i realized i made a few mistakes. first, i didn't cool enough boiled water. i had a half-filled 5-qt pot which only had 9 cups of water when i need at least 18. second, i totally forgot to create the brine. i could add salt to the cold water, but salt dissolved better in warm/hot water. i ended up transferring what water i had into a stainless stock pot, and then added some more boiled water to create 18 cups. i dissolved in 6 oz. of salt and left everything to cool. i then sanitized the jars by mixing a gallon of water with 2tbsp of bleach. i wore dishwashing gloves and scrubbed the inside and outside of the jars with the diluted bleach. i sanitized the paocai jar and the 2 fido jars (4L and 5L). i rinsed everything with water and set them upside down to dry.
i was in belmont by noontime, where my mother made some pho-flavored beef broth noodles for lunch.
i went flying today, the first time i've flown after updating the dji fly app to 1.2.2 (side loading on android, it's still not available in the google store for some reason). there some behind-the-scenes improvements, but the thing i really wanted to see was the new navigation interface. it shows where the drone is in relationship to the pilot and the location of the home point. it also shows the orientation of the drone, whether it's tilting to the sides or up and down (things you can't tell from camera because the image is gimbal-stabilized).
i flew down to the park, over parts of fresh pond golf course, over the farm, towards the direction of the high school. i wanted to see how far i can go before i start losing signal. i can't make it as far as the high school itself (signal was dangerously close to being lost), but close enough to see the pond. i then flew back by burbank school, but instead of coming home, i kept going, towards watertown, in the direction of the arsenal mall.
i was halfway to the arsenal mall before the fly app gave me an "RC connection lost" warning. i positioned myself around the backyard to get a better view of the sky and i managed to reestablished connection and fly the drone back home. i still haven't yet had the mini 2 automatically initiate a return-to-home with a signal loss so i don't know if this safety feature even works. i've had many occasions where the app crashes on me, and i've had to wait for as long as a minute to get back into the app, but never once has the drone returned to home on its own. today was actually the very first time where i flew far enough that there was an actual full RC signal loss, but even then it didn't RTH, maybe because i regained connection within the 10 seconds countdown before it returns home. i could test it by flying it in a large parking lot and turning off the RC controller and see if the drone will return to home. i believe it has to be 20m away to do an auto RTH.
when the drone came in for a landing i had it land on the square piece of plywood i've been using as a launching pad. ever since i sliced my finger bloody trying to land the drone on my hand, i've been kind of scared to do any hand landing. the flight data said i flew for a total distance of 4.45km (2.77 miles) with a duration of 21 minutes, the longest (by distance) i've ever flown.
my father's passport is due to expire in march so i helped him fill out a DS-82 renewal form. the cost for renewal is $110 but the hard part is getting a recent photo. i could take the photo but my father wanted to get a haircut before that happened. after my mother gave him a trim, she gave me a haircut as well. i haven't had a haircut since june. i usually get a haircut twice a year, once in the spring, once in the fall. the spring haircut is so it won't get hot with all that haircut, the fall haircut is so i can grow out my hair again during the winter to keep my head warm.
we tried taking some passport photos but it was already too late in the day and not enough daylight. i couldn't use the flash because it created too much shadows. we decided to wait until tomorrow, when it wasn't so dark.
around sunset i went out for another flight with the drone. i wanted to fly to our old house, a distance of less than 500m, short work for the mini 2 (the farthest i can fly without losing connection has been 3km so far). i also wanted to go there because i discovered a while back someone living on that street might have an operating 222MHz repeater. i tried searching for a possible antenna but didn't see anything. returning home, i did a big loop. i stopped to grab some sunset photos. it's hard, because if the sky is properly exposed, the ground is too dark, and if the ground is properly exposed, the sky gets too bright. maybe if i took a raw image i could fiddle around with the exposure settings but i don't know how to take a raw file yet on my drone.
for dinner my father pan-fried a fish a family friend had given them. she makes sushi and always has a bunch of leftover fish heads for them. in the bag was also a fish they'd never seen before. we looked it up, most likely it's a florida (common) pompano. it's a flat fish with lots of oil and big bones that are easy to clean out. white-fleshed, despite being oily, wasn't particularly fishy.
sichuan paocai (四川泡菜)
(7L paocai jar & 4L fido jar)
5.8 lbs. chinese cabbage
3.2 lbs. daikon radish
2.5 lbs. carrots
6 oz. ginger
48 thai chili peppers
18 cups boiled water
6 oz. salt
1 handful sichuan peppercorns
1/4 cup chinese baijiu
8 tbsp rock sugar
when i returned home i started making the sichuan paocai around 8:30pm. i gathered all the vegetables and additional ingredients.
i discovered the chinatown ginger i'd bought a few days ago had already gone moldy. half of the ginger smelled rotten, but the other half was still good after i peeled the skin with a spoon. i peeled the carrots and daikon radishes and cut them into wedges. i trimmed the stems from 4 dozen frozen thai chili peppers. i chopped the chinese cabbages into square chunks. i then started layering the vegetables into the paocai jar and fido jar. a layer of cabbage, a layer of chili peppers and peppercorns and rock sugar, a layer of sliced ginger, then a layer of carrots and radishes. i had enough vegetables to fill both jars exactly. unfortunately i didn't have enough brine. i thought i made 18 cups but it turned out to be 16 cups. the fido jar took 7 cups to fill but 9 cups wasn't enough for the sichaun paocai jar. i made 6 more cups of brine (adding 2 oz. of salt to hot water) and waited for the water to cool down (i put the hot brine into a larger stockpot filled with cold water to make it cool faster). when it finally did, i just added an additional 2 cups before the paocai jar was filled. it was nearly 10:30pm before i finished.
there were 3 more NFL playoff games today: ravens beat the titans, saints beat the bears, and the marquee prime time game was between the browns and the steelers. i like both teams and wished they could both advance, but the browns story makes them hard to root against, having not been in the playoffs for 17-years. the game was basically over by the first quarter, when cleveland scores 28-0 against pittsburgh. that's the first quarter, which set a new NFL playoff record as the most points in the opening quarter. i wasn't paying attention to the game after that, but to the steelers credit, they clawed back, and made the game competitive. but the football gods favored the browns tonight, and they won the game with a final score of 48-37.