i wasn't expecting today to be so rainy. i figured it'd stop by the afternoon, allowing me to run some errands, but that was not the case. thankfully i had the foresight to put the cover on the motorcycle last night. the weather has been gloomy since saturday. the combination of cold weather plus grey sky has thrown off my circadian rhythm and i've been waking up later than usual (although you can argue that going to bed around 4am is probably the main reason why i've been waking up late). once daylight saving time ends this weekend, my biological clock is going to be even more confused.
i cooked more bacon for lunch, made another bacon-avocado sandwich. i toasted the bread separately this time, but still put it in the smokeless grill just to make the bread crispier and to melt the cheese. pretoasting the bread prevents it from getting as smooshed compared to when i used fresh (soft) bread. i've discovered that adding a bit of salt to avocado makes it taste so much better. it reminds me of those chilean sandwiches from chacarero, one of the best part was the tasty guacamole, and i think their secret was just adding salt as well.
the smokeless grill works surprisingly well for bacon. i don't know i never attempted to cook bacon using my old foreman grill. i think it's because it was too small and i'd have to cook in multiple batches since i typically like to cook all my bacon at the same time so they can only stink up the house once. with the bigger cooking surprise on the smokeless grill, i can cook 6 long strips of bacon at the same time. and because the top and bottom are covered, i don't have to worry about splatter, just the smoke, which i can blow out using fans. finally cooking bacon can be accessible! i cooked 4 strips of bacon this time, 2 for the sandwich, 2 for later. i ended up cutting them in half so i had 8 smaller pieces of bacon to cook. i basically set the bacon in the grill, used the fans to blow out the smoke, and went to go watch tv while they cooked, couldn't be easier.
once again i saved the bacon grease, poured it into a jar. i didn't bother wiping the grill plates this time around; it's not a necessary step and wiping it could get food particles onto the heating coil underneath the grill plate. i waited for them to cool down before removing and washing them in the sink.
those leftover strips of bacon had no chance of lasting. once i had one as a snack, i ended up eating the rest. good thing i didn't cook the rest of the bacon otherwise i probably would've eaten all of it.
by 2pm the rain had stopped. i checked the doppler radar to make sure, the clouds seemed to be all out to sea. this was my chance to ride down to belmont and dig up a few plants i wanted to save before the killing frost arrives on friday. the latest forecast says boston will drop down to 25°F friday night. we went from a daytime high into the 70's to night time temperature in the 20's. autumn - and by extension winter - had finally arrived. those poor restaurants with their outdoor seating, how can anyone enjoy their dinner sitting outside in the freezing cold?
the combination of cold and wet weather along with my face mask caused my glasses to fog up something fierce. i had to stop a few times to wipe the lenses with my fingers so i could see.
i dug up another thai chili pepper plant plus our thai basil. from last winter, pepper and basil seem to attract aphids. my father didn't want to keep them, but it'd be a waste to leave them outside to die. we'll keep an eye on them, the first sign of aphid infestation we'll toss them outside. i will use the knowledge i gained from battling indoor pests last winter, as well a few new tricks (like neem oil). my goal is to have zero pests this time around. i sprayed both plants with insecticidal soap before moving them into the grow room.
while i was working outside, i noticed i seemed to be getting wetter. at first i thought it was just raindrops falling from the tree, but then i stopped to take a closer look and it was in fact drizzling a very fine mist. this was not in the forecast but nothing i could do it at that point. i also emptied the garden hose of water before disconnecting the on-demand pump. the concern is leaving the pump outside might damage it if there's water still inside the pump (water would freeze). i wanted to bring it inside, but i was trying to figure out how my father connected the pump to the battery and discovered he hard-wired the whole thing inside the light switch. i couldn't just simply disconnect it, i essentially had to take apart the light switch and all the wires inside. that would've been a challenge under ideal circumstances, nearly impossible in the rain. i called my father to make sure there wasn't an easier way to disconnect everything, he must've forgotten that at some point we needed to bring the pump back inside. he said he'd take care of it before the freeze friday night.
i still need to dig up my lotus plants. i read not to dig them up before all the leaves have turned brown and shriveled. i figured by this weekend that will happen. unfortunately there doesn't seem to be very many warm days left anymore, and working in wet conditions in the cold is no fun. after that we need to take apart our rain barrels, figure out a place to store them all, whether in the garage or somewhere outside.
my father asked me to stop by the cafe to pick up my smoothie ingredients. it wasn't raining that hard, but i put a plastic bag over my soaked bike seat and the bottom of my jeans were already sticking to my legs. afterwards i returned home, barely able to see through the fogged up glasses.
after a shower i got a little hungry and had a nissin cup of noodles chicken flavor (purchased from star market). nothing like a hot bowl of instant noodle soup on a cold and wet day. i haven't had these in a while, i'm more of a maruchan man myself. the flavor tasted a little bland and the noodles were still a bit tough (i think it could be because i used hot water from my thermos instead of boiling a fresh kettle). i still prefer my maruchan.
later in the evening my vivosun hydroponics glasses arrived in belmont. my father tried them on, i called to see how they worked. they fit over glasses and when he went downstairs into the grow room he could see all the plants were green instead of blurple. he noticed when he looked at a white led light that it looked a little green.
i made dinner close to 9pm, heated up the last of my turkey veggy burgers in the smokeless grill. set the timer to 9 minutes, flipped them at the midway point. they're hard to tell if they've been fully cooked, and any kind of processed turkey sausage/patty are rubbery by their very nature, but it was steaming hot all the way through (no cold spots), so i based it on that.
to think, all that rain we had today was the appetizer; the main course will be arriving tomorrow and friday, so at least two more days of wet and cold weather. i still haven't turned on my heat yet but i think it's a matter of time. i've been spot heating with my space heater, warming up the living room and bathroom, but eventually it won't be enough. my 14x20" filters already arrived yesterday, so i don't have any excuses not to turn on the heat, other than to see how long i go without it. i don't know what the record is, i'll have to check, but usually by the end of october the heat is on.
i had to take care of some housekeeping issues today, literal and figurative. i vacuumed the house, but also paid my property tax ($490) for next year (we pay twice a year). i submitted some paperwork to the massachusetts unemployment office, including my SF-50 form from the census officially announcing my termination date plus a copy of my last pay stub. in the late morning i went to market basket to get a few ingredients for lunch.
for lunch i decided to make an avocado-bacon-cheese grilled sandwich using the smokeless foreman grill. i washed the removable grill plates beforehand, don't know what kind of chemical was on there to begin with. i preheated the grill and it smelled new, cooking off that factory odor. once the grill was ready (light turned red to green), i put two strips of bacon cut in half. everything seemed okay at first, no smoke, so i was pretty amazed, but once the bacon started cooking, there was smoke after all. it came from the two vents at the back of the grill. after a few minutes it did stop smoking, but i think it would've been the same result with a non-smokeless grill as well. i ran the window fan and standalone oscillating fan but turned them off when the smoke stopped.
i didn't know how long to cook bacon so i just eyeballed it until it looked crispy enough. i then assembled the sandwich - whole wheat bread, guacamole (avocado, garlic, pink sea salt), extra sharp cheddar cheese, tomato slices, bacon - and put everything back on the grill. the sandwich was soft enough that the grill cover basically smooshed the sandwich. next time no need to press the sandwich, toast the bread instead and let the residual heat from the bread and bacon melt the cheese. the drip tray collected a good amount of bacon fat for just 2 strips of bacon. i poured it into a plastic container before the hot oil warped the plastic, i then transferred the liquid bacon fat to a small glass jar. not sure what i'm doing to do with it but bacon fat is a commodity item.
just when i was about to eat - 1pm - my father stopped by to drop off a few things, including almond milk (for making smoothies) and frozen fruit, but he forgot the bananas. he also brought some batter fried eggplant slices stuffed with spam. they were freshly made and my father told me to eat them before they get soggy. it tasted a little weird, the texture is crispy on the outside but slimy on the inside, including the eggplant and spam.
only then was i finally able to eat my avocado-cheese-bacon sandwich which took me an hour to make. the sandwich was good - like a grilled cheese sandwich - except instead of ham and cheese (which is how i usually make it) - it's bacon and cheese and avocado and tomato. i'm not quite sure if it's healthy or not: the whole wheat bread and tomato and avocado are healthy, but you have the bacon and cheese which don't seem that healthy. i didn't butter the bread like i'd normally do with a grilled cheese sandwich, so at least there's that.
once the foreman grill cooled enough to touch (it actually took a while, i was surprised how long it kept warm), i removed the cooking plates and washed them. earlier i'd wiped off some stucked food with a dry paper towel but there was still bits and pieces that i couldn't remove, like melted cheese. i was afraid they wouldn't wash off but a sponge make easily work of them. i also washed the empty drip tray. there were some dried food grease but after soaking it a drop of dish soap for a few seconds, the grease magically rinsed off, no scrubbing needed. if i could soak the cooking plates, then i wouldn't need to scrub them with a sponge at all. i was going to leave them to dry, but decided to hand dry them with paper towels before putting them back onto the grill.
i biked down to the post office to get some shiny halloween forever stamps. there was a long line outside 9 person deep. it almost made me decide to come back another time, but i had nothing else to do so i figured i could wait. i ended up waiting 25 minutes before i finally made it inside (only 2 person are allowed inside at a time). the clerk was very excited when i told her i wanted halloween stamps, and she went to her stamp box to get them. it came in a sheet ($11) which i already knew from seeing them on the USPS website.
coming back i bumped into garden david. i didn't recognize him, he saw me and shouted my name. he was just in the community garden harvesting the last of his vegetables.
after raking and sweeping the tiny yellow locust leaves from the backyard and the sidewalk, i walked down to the community garden to do some cleaning (inspired by david). the garden committee sent all the gardeners an e-mail today warning of the killing frost that will arrive here thursday-friday, and to remove any tender plants and collect any remaining vegetables. there was a handful of other gardeners there today, all busy tending to their plots. i did some cleaning (uprooted all the tomatoes and eggplants, cut back the lemon balm, harvested some eggplants, tomatoes, and cayenne peppers) but will need to come back at a later date to do a more thorough job. at the very least i need to divide my chives, which have grown out of control. this will be a good opportunity to give my plot a little tillage, pull up anything i don't want to keep for next season.
for dinner i cooked two organic turkey veggy burgers on the smokeless foreman grill. i waited for the grill to go green before putting on the patties. i also used the timer function, set it to 7 minutes. these smoked a lot more than the bacon, but because veggy turkey burgers don't have a lot of grease, the smoke was mainly water vapor from the frozen patties, and not oily grease smoke that precipitates and lingers. after 7 minutes the grill beeped a few times but kept cooking. they didn't look done so i flipped them over and cooked them for a few more minutes.
the finished patties looked more like chicken burgers, and was a bit green (from the vegetable ingredients). i added some sliced tomatoes and onions, then slathered some additional condiments (mayonnaise, ketchup, relish). it didn't taste like beef burgers, more like chicken burgers. they weren't bad, but also weren't so delicious that i'd get them again, they're just kind of meh. they were filling though, i had zero desire to snack afterwards, something that happens when i have dinner that don't fulfill my nutrient cravings. this brand - applegate - not only is it organic turkey, but it also includes sweet potato, white beans, kale, and roasted onion, so a lot of proteins in an unassuming patty.
after using the smokeless foreman grill twice today, what do i think? keep or return? i'm still on the fence. a standard 4-serving slanted drip tray foreman grill sells for $40. a rapid cook version is a little more, $60, which is almost what i paid for my smokeless ($70). the smokeless feature is just marketing talk, it's impossible to make a grill that doesn't smoke, it's the laws of physics. i may end up just keeping it because i got a good price on it. i could get a regular foreman grill but at almost the same price, the only benefit is it'd be slightly smaller (10x12" instead of the 12x14" of the smokeless, and who knows how high). i didn't like that the smokeless grill didn't come with any utensils; i used chopsticks to move around my bacon and turkey patties. i still don't quite understand how it's "smokeless technology" works; supposedly there are vents in front and the sides of the grill that sucks in air and recirculates the smoke inside the grill, but i put my hand in front of the grill and didn't notice any air draw.
the motorcycle started only after i pulled the choke all the way out, not just halfway. it was still cold this morning but temperature already in the 50's, not the 40's it was yesterday. sky was grey and it seemed to have rained a bit overnight. i went to go get some gas first before heading to belmont around noontime.
my father made me a bagel and egg sandwich for lunch. i spread on some sweet sriracha sauce for extra flavor. he also pan-fried some sausages. i made another smoothie with the vitamix blender. my father told me yesterday why he always unplugs the blender; it's because there's no safety feature, and you could accidentally turn on the vitamix even with the container off. later in the day my father told me he was taking the vitamix to the cafe for making drinks, where it'd get more use than at home.
the thing we had to do today was move all the potted plants temporarily in our sunroom down to the basement grow room. it was easier to move them into the basement from outside than navigate the narrow steps inside the house. we repotted some of our jasmines back in may; the new containers give them more room to grow but they've become quite heavy. i never really learned how to lift with my legs so maybe my back will be feeling all that heavy lifting tomorrow.
we spent some time figuring out where to the place the plants in the sunroom and where the lights were. we moved the wheeled wire shelves away from the corners to provide more circulation. we managed to space out our plants a bit more, make it easier to spot if they start getting any pests. we also made sure they all had access to outlets. i discovered we didn't need the 7ft long surge protector i brought from my house, that we had enough coverage as is.
afterwards i filled two large buckets with rain water and added a tablespoon of mosquito bits to each. we will use this treated water to water the plants. this will kill off all the fungus gnats from the start, so we don't have to worry about them. the only other things we need to worry about will be aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites.
i returned home after dinner, left fairly early by 6pm. there was enough moisture in the air that my motorcycle was coated in a layer of wet dew. i wiped dry the seat before going to cambridge.
my smokeless contact digital foreman grill was finally arriving today via UPS. i tried waiting for it this morning but they deliver as late as 9pm so i didn't bother. a large box was waiting on my doorstep.
i knew it was big but it wasn't until i saw it for myself that i realized just how big it was. it sits 12" across, 14" deep, and 7" high. there's a big handle which takes up a chunk of space; i think they designed it like that so it can act like a sandwich press. it looks like an industrial strength flatbed image scanner. or with the handle, like a thick square briefcase. it's much bigger than my old foreman grill: my old grill could fit a single hamburger patty while the new grill could fit 4. it's also heavy, i don't know the actual weight, but it's not something you can just carry around with one hand.
when i was taking the grill out of the box i noticed a date stamp that seemed to read "2015". that didn't make any sense because i thought this contact smokeless grill came out just this year. maybe the stamp is "20/5" meaning it was manufactured back in may 2020. the first thing that popped out at me (literally) was the grease catcher that easily comes out, almost too easily, like there's nothing hold it in place (though i don't expect to be tilting the grill from side to side when i'm using it).
the grill plates come off. that's probably the most important feature, and if i got a grill that had removable grill plates i'd be pretty heavy, never mind all the other additional features. i was curious how the heating elements would be arranged without get grease all over it and it's well protected in special grooves underneath the bottom grill plate. the top plate doesn't need it as much, but there's a special track that matches the shape of the heating element for faster heat transfer.
i plugged it in just to play around with the digital touchscreen. it's more aesthetics than anything else, the screen itself does do all that much other than to set the temperature and timer. the temperature range isn't all that great either, from 325°F to 425°F at 25° increments, so really just 6 settings. does it matter all that much a 100° temperature difference? the buttons are very responsive though, and makes a futuristic beeping sound when you press them.
i also tried stowing it away with my other kitchen appliances. the smokeless grill is so large, it's the second largest appliance in my kitchen, after the microwave. even the toaster oven and bread machine seem smaller compared to the grill.
i've yet to use it, i'll put it to the test tomorrow, when i plan on cooking some bacon and organic turkey burgers. based on the size alone i'm tempted to return the thing, but let's use it first, see how it performs. i'm curious about the smokeless feature. i don't totally believe it because nothing can be truly smokeless, but we'll see.
today was a cold day, temperature this morning in the 40's, the day's high would be in the 50's. i actually took out one of my winter jackets - the fleece hooded sweatshirt with the down vest. in the pockets were gloves and a hat. we're not that cold yet but soon. there's probably a good chance i turn on my heat this coming week, as the daytime temperature won't go beyond the 50's and we might actually get a freeze friday night.
my parents told me they drove down to the fresh pond cvs this morning to get their flu shot (senior heavy dosage). while my father had the usual symptom of localized soreness in the arm that received the vaccine, but mother had zero symptoms (even though when she got it in the past it'd hurt). even though i got my shot on thursday, it still hurts a little bit 3 days later, so i'm surprised my mother felt nothing.
i had a cheese bagel with a fried egg for lunch, along with a smoothie that was blended in the vitamix with the newly repaired blade assembly. the smoothie included almond milk, a banana, some frozen fruit, a slice of ginger, and a bit of black cherry juice. even though most of those ingredients are usually what i put into my own smoothies, they tasted somehow better coming out of the vitamix blender. later i had some white jelly fungus for dessert.
my father noticed a difference between the old vitamix container and the new knockoff one we got. besides having different baseplates (the vitamix has a beefier metal base, almost like an anchor, while the newer one has a thinner stainless steel base plate), the "shaft cog" on the vitamix sits lower so it pairs better with the drive socket than the newer container. the cog on the newer container sits about halfway in, while on the old container it sits completely in.
today was the long-awaited matchup between the 49ers and patriots. true, tom brady is no longer on the team, but we have cam newton against san francisco's QB jimmy garoppolo. the game was brutal, i stopped watching after the first half. the final score was 33-6, patriots drop down to 2-4 for the season. all that good feeling about cam newton is starting to wear away as he seems incapable of mounting any kind of offense. later i learned belichick pulled him out of the game in the 3rd quarter after throwing his 3rd interception of the day.
to be fair, had brady remained on the team, i think we'd still suck this year, given how many key players have decided to sit out the season because of coronavirus concerns. but you could argue that had they known brady was still under center, there'd be more incentive for them to come back, hoping there'd be another superbowl championship. but the team was already on a downward trend since last season, maybe it would've just continued. patriots also have one of the toughest schedules, though i think the worst of it is already over, and the only remaining challenege seems to be a matchup with the ravens mid-november.
after dinner i wrote a letter for my father to give to their next door neighbor. they upgraded their heating system recently and the exhaust pipe coming out of the house is very loud to the point where they can still hear it with the windows closed. my father spoke to the wife this morning, who said she's never heard any noises, but that's because their bedroom doesn't directly face the exhaust. the letter mentioned a youtube video where somebody installed a silencer on a chimney exhaust which reduced the noise significantly.
after speeding home i took a shower and watched some 60 minutes followed by sunday night football. i'm trying to get to sleep early tonight, can't go to bed every night around 3-4am and waking up at 11am!
i rode down to twin city plaza in east cambridge late this morning to visit sally beauty supply. i was looking for 40 volume creme developer for my retr0brite projects. originally i was going to buy it on amazon before i discovered it was actually cheaper if i purchased locally from a beauty supply store. a 32 oz. container of 40 volume was just $4.59
; the cheapest i could find online for the same amount was $9.98. i'm still not quite sure what developer actually does, i think it's used in bleaching hair, and it contains hydrogen peroxide, which is the key ingredient for retr0bite (along with a UV light source). 40 volume means it's 12% hydrogen peroxide. at that strength, gloves (and eye protection) should be worn to prevent skin burning. i felt a little self-conscious buying the stuff, and almost wanted to tell the cashier what it was for, but i doubt she cared.
i took a quick peek of the nearby dollar tree (much bigger than the one near by house) looking for clamp lid jars (no luck) before riding back home. i stopped at star market to get a carton of almond milk and bananas for making smoothies at my parents' place (to test out the newly repaired blade assembly). while waiting in line, i bumped into bruce buying some paper towels. i was in a slow line and he checked out before me.
after gathering my things at home, i departed for belmont. i was running a little late today, i didn't get there until almost 12:40pm. my mother thought maybe i'd gone to haymarket. i had a mantou sandwich stuffed with pickled mustard greens and braised pork gelatin for lunch. my sister stopped by briefly with bags of bagels she got from the farmer's market. hailey wouldn't come back inside after hearing a noisy squirrel chattering from a neighbor's tree.
the wave washers finally arrived yesterday, along with the food grade plumbing grease. we had all the parts we needed to finally assembly the vitamix blade assembly. we greased the shaft seal before applying loctite to the inside of the housing as well as the outside of the bearings. we figured the loctite would be some kind of glue but it came out of the tube rather liquidy, as we spread it using a toothpick. my father then pressed the pieces together using a vise. now we wait 24 hours for the loctite to cure before we can use the repaired assembly. even though these are the bearings specified, the shaft sits rather loosely within the new bearings, unlike the old bearings which are tight. we don't know if this will make any difference until we put the assembly back in action.
my mother finally decided she wanted to get a new phone, to replace the iphone 5s she inherited from my sister. the impetus was she tried taking some photos on her walk earlier today but couldn't because she was out of memory. it was an easy fix, i just offloaded all 2000+ of her photos (which only accounted for just 4GB) and cleared her storage. nevertheless, she's overdue for an upgrade. she currently uses the iphone for calls and photos, and my old oneplus one to surf the web and chat. if she got a new phone so could consolidate her devices and wouldn't need to carry two phones all the time (like i used to).
i spent the rest of the day doing research on phones. my mother wanted a phone with a good camera, so it'll either be a google pixel, an iphone, or a samsung phone. out of the three, i've never used a samsung device before, so i couldn't say how good they are, but i've always heard phone things about their cameras. she also didn't want a phone that was too big or too heavy. i told her big meant a bigger screen which would be easier on the eyes compared to the tiny screen of her current iphone 5s. originally i was looking at samsungs, the A51 or the S10 or S10+, last year's flagships. i personally prefer phones with bigger screens, but that also meant more expensive and heavier. the A51 was a good bargain but it's dual GSM/CDMA version only works on 4G LTE for verizon. there's also an exclusive verizon version but then it wouldn't work on other networks, including international ones.
i was also checking out the motorola moto G stylus. it's got a big screen with 128GB of memory and 3 cameras (normal macro, wide) and costs just $250. if we were in a hurry that'd be the phone to get, but i heard its camera wasn't anything that great, and my mother didn't need a stylus.
i started looking at google pixel phones. the pixel 4a seems promising - 128GB, not too big, not too small either, $350. i could in fact me too small, as my mother really likes my old xiaomi phone and wants a phone similar in dimension to that one. i also don't like the fact that it only has one camera, which the trend for all modern phones is towards multi-cameras. then i saw the pixel 4a 5G, slightly more expensive, but a larger screen (though still not a phablet) and has 2 cameras (normal and wide). that phone currently retails for $500, but i'm hoping maybe a black friday discount will lower it within the $400 ballpark. if so, that'd be the phone to buy. they won't go on sale until sometimes in november.
i returned home after dinner. temperature was supposed to drop tonight (even though we did reach the lower 70's in boston), but it was still 58°F when i left. temperature tonight will dip into the lower 40's. my 2ft short surge protectors came, i left one at my parents' place (for the outlet behind the piano) and took the other one to replace the 7ft surge protector that used to be in the living room. i didn't need one that long, a short one will do just fine.
after a shower, i watched some indiana jones on tv before finishing the evening with some saturday night live. adelle was hosting, she lost so much weight i didn't recognize her.
i finally received my census termination e-mail, which will allow me to collect unemployment. they even sent me a second letter giving me instructions on how to claim.
i cleaned my aquarium today: pulled out all the hair algae, scrubbed off the glass algae with a magic sponge, changed out the activated carbon, used the aquarium water to feed my houseplants. i really ought to clean it more often, like once a week, but i can never get around to it. i don't remember the last time i cleaned, but according to my blog, it could've been as long as july.
i had some time to adjust my rear and front derailleurs. my rear cogs keep on skipping on the cassette. turns out it wasn't a derailleur issue, but rather some string (the same string i found on the street that i used to remove my old macbook pro battery) that gotten wrapped inside the cassette. i don't know if it fixed it because the chain skip issue seemed like it predated the wrapped string, but i won't know until i give the bike a longer ride. i then went to work on the front derailleur, which has never worked. at most i can switch between two chainrings, but usually i ride in the middle chainring and make small adjustments on the rear cogs. i fiddled with it for a while, but i don't think i made any progress. i took the bike out later for a short ride on flat surface, seems like i can only use gears 5-6-7 with the middle chainring, any other setting and there's chain rub. i'll take a look at it again next week.
for dinner i warmed up some frozen french bread pizza.
this is getting ridiculous: i went to bed last until around 4am, woke up at 11am. i'm really not sure why i've been sleeping later and later. not like i'm doing it on purpose, it just happens. i feel like at this point my internal clock is all messed up, like i've inadvertently gave myself jetlag.
when you live by yourself, it's hard not letting food go to waste. unless you have very good food discipline, and only buy what you can eat, there's always going to be something in the fridge that's about to spoil (especially if you try to eat healthy and have fresh produce). it's either not enough food in the fridge or too much food. currently i have too much food, and i'm trying to eat them all before they go bad. like the chicken salad i bought over a week ago that i've been trying to finish with my bagels. i also have a box of baby arugula, some unused scallions and cilantro, and boxes of blueberries and strawberries.
after lunch i went out to run errands. renee was getting her house insulated, that was what all the noises were this morning. they did something different though, it seemed they were pumping in the insulation pulp from the third floor, and they didn't cut up the sides of her house like they did with mine. the workers were about to leave when i left, i don't know if they're going to come back tomorrow, doesn't seem like they're done yet.
first stop was the watertown home depot. i got some rubber washers, then put one of them back on the chrome shutoff valve before returning the valve. usually to get back to cambridge i take aberdeen, but they still haven't finished paving the road yet (it's been stripped) and i didn't want to ride on it again, liable to slip, so i took a big detour to get back home.
back at home, i walked to the somerville walgreens to see if i can get a flu shot. i tried last week but they were busy so decided to come another time. there was nobody at the pharmacy today, and after getting my birthdate and name (i get my prescriptions there, so they already had my health insurance information), they made me sign a form and had me wait a few minutes while they got ready. they never seem to be in a rush at the pharmacy. eventually one of the pharmacist came out and asked me to come inside. it was the vietnamese woman, she's filled out my prescriptions a bunch of times. not only was she masked, but also wearing a gown, had on a face shield, and gloves. it went quick, i told her i wanted the shot on my right arm. i asked if there were a lot of people getting the vaccine, she said yes. after a brief pinch, i was done. she put a red walgreens "flu fighter" bandaid on my arm. the vaccine i got was the fluzone quadrivalent, which contains two strains of influenza A and 2 strains of influenza B.
i had a coupon for a $7 discount if i spent over $20 so i was trying to buy enough to qualify. there were some almonds on sale, but i also stocked up on some more snacks and even some halloween candy. i'm not planning on giving out stuff this year (and realistically, i don't expect to receive many visitors even if i did), but i just like to have some just in case. i got the glow-in-the-dark kit kat (which were on sale), if nobody knocks on my door, i'm more than happy to eat them myself. when i went to pay, i discovered i didn't reach $20. fortunately i had a $3 discount if i spent over $15 coupon, so i used that instead. it wasn't even a discount, it was $3 off for a future purchase.
the two other things i wanted to do today was readjust the cables on my bicycle and do a water change on my aquarium, but it was nearly 4pm, so i decided to call it a day, leave those two projects for tomorrow.
i boiled 21 frozen chinese dumplings for dinner, washed it down with some golden inca kola, then ate a bowl of strawberries. nothing like a heavy dose of carbs and proteins to make me not want to snack anymore after dinner.
tonight was the 3rd presidential debate (actually the 2nd, because trump cancelled the 2nd one because he didn't want to get tested days after he was in the hospital for coronavirus). the topics seemed the same, but this time the moderator was allowed to mute if either trump or biden tried to interrupt or spoke too long. fear of getting muted made each candidate (mostly trump) very disciplined with their timing. it was actually watchable compared to the first debate, despite the number trump lies and his lack of empathy for the american people. i don't think the debate will change any opinions, but one post-debate talking head said at least trump managed to stop the bleeding, though he probably didn't convert many voters. election day just 12 days away!
not much in the way of action today, it was a cloudy day which made me not want to go outside. i knew it was foggy last night and it must've also rained a little bit in the early morning because the streets were wet. i did go out in the afternoon when the sun started peeking through, to market basket to get a few things. i had a craving for sushi for some reason and i've always seen their sushi selection but never tried it until today. i also got a bottle of inca kola, the national soda of peru. back at home, i went back out one last time to star market to pick up a few bags of potato chips on sale (for my junk food larder).
just as i suspected, the trash people picked up all of renee's junk except for her old mac computer. i took another look, it's actually a power mac 7100/66. computer wise it's not bad, 3 years newer than my quadra 700, with a powerPC chip instead of the motorola. however the form factor is nothing special, not like the mac SE with its compact macintosh shape. as much as it pains me to see old macs get trashed, it's just not worth saving.
michael called me around noontime to let me know my transition lenses still haven't come in yet. he contacted his supplier, some issue with customs, it's due to get here next week. i said i was willing to wait, no rush. while he was on the phone, i told him i could replace his bulging macbook pro battery for him, as it seemed awfully dangerous the last time i saw it. he actually beat me to the punch, took his laptop to an apple repair shop upstairs, they had the spare part, they managed to fix it for him already.
some news from vatican city: pope francis made comments endorsing same-sex civil unions from an old 2019 interview. this is a big deal because the catholic church has always been opposed to homosexuality and by extension any sort of union that comes out of it (which is hypocritical, considering how many gay men enter the clergy). there are definitely LGBT opponents in the vatican, but when the pope himself says he's in favor of same-sex civil unions, it gives people hope that one day (hopefully soon) the catholic church will abolish the antiquated notion that being gay is a sin.
my smokeless foreman grill was due to arrive today, but UPS tracking showed it hadn't even been shipped out yet even though a shipping label was created on friday. maybe it got left behind in a warehouse somewhere, who knows. so i contacted costco via their online chat to see what was going on. the woman i texted said the package most likely went out on monday, and to give it 24-48 hours for UPS to update their tracking. she told me if i still haven't seen any action on the part of UPS, to get back in touch with them.
i kept checking the UPS website day, it wasn't until very late in the evening did i actually see the package finally shipping out from california. the new delivery date won't be until monday so i have to wait 5 more days (10 total) on 3-day shipping that i paid for. if it wasn't such a good deal, i would've cancelled the order already. in the meantime, my organic turkey burgers will have to wait a bit longer before i can grill them on the new foreman. i still don't know if i even want to keep it when it arrives; if it's too big (QVC just posted an ad featuring the smokeless grill, you can see how big it is, they selling it for $89 + $7.50 S&H) i won't have the space in the kitchen for another appliance, and honestly, i just wanted a little foreman grill with removable grill plates. they sell one for $40 that would serve me fine. we'll see.
i ate the spicy grilled salmon roll for dinner. it was so good, i could eat it every day. i rarely buy sushi because my parents know how to make it; i really ought to learn it from them that way i can make it anytime i want, as well as the chinese dumpling recipe. i also tried inca kola. the color is kind of off-putting at first, looks like very concentrated carbonated urine. but it smells like bubble gum, and it tastes a little bit like bubble gum but also a fruity flavor. it's not too bad and if you gave it to somebody who's never had soda before along with coca-cola, i think they'd prefer this more.
i had some more of the macaroni salad for lunch before tossing out the rest. i wasn't sure if it was still good, but after waiting a little bit to see if i'd have a bad reaction (i didn't), i biked to the cafe to help my father repair the toilet.
i have experience fixing all aspects of a toilet, from replacing the supply line shutoff valve, to changing the fill valve (2009, 2018), to removing the tank and putting in a new flush valve (2019), so i had a pretty good idea what needed to be done. the problem was the tank was no longer filling up with water. there was an obstruction, and the most likely culprit is the rubber washer on the shutoff valve had fallen off, blocking the pipe.
after turning off the water main and letting the water drain out from the sink, i started to empty the water from the toilet tank. flushing got rid of most of the water, but there was still a little bit left that had to be sopped up with a sponge into a bucket. i then disconnected the supply tube from underneath the toilet tank. i ended up removing the whole supply tube to check if anything was stick inside (there wasn't). i then released the handle of the shutoff valve. sure enough, it was missing the washer. my father ended up digging out the missing washer from the valve assembly. to repair it, we removed the handle from a new shutoff valve and attached it onto the old assembly (which was still soldered to the supply line). we reattached everything and i went down into the basement to turn on the water main.
the blockage was still there. not only that, but for some reason the new handle wasn't pairing up correctly with the old assembly, and we couldn't shut off the water. after turning back off the water main, my father put back the old shutoff handle, just switched the rubber washer. with the water main turned back on, the blockage was still there, but at least now we were able to turn off the water into the toilet.
that could only mean one thing: the toilet fill valve was broken. fortunately we also had that part, and it was a simple matter of replacing it, which took all but a minute. i used a pair of plumber pliers to loosen the plastic lockring holding the hold fill valve in place before putting in the new one. i didn't even need tools, the new plastic lockring underneath the toilet tank was designed to be tightened by hand.
when we turned on the shutoff valve, it suddenly started filling up the tank. the toilet was working again!
before i left, my godmother (who was at the cafe, along with my 2nd aunt, for their little knitting circle with my mother) asked me to change the time and calendar in her subaru forester because she recently had her car battery replaced and it reseted everything in her car. my father and i went to go take a look, it wasn't that obvious, i had to consult a youtube video that showed me the setting to adjust the clock was actually located on the steering wheel itself, not the center console.
my father gave me a ride back to my house, i stashed my bike in the back of the car. he came to pick up the wooden planks i got from renee.
it was warm enough today (68°F) that i opened a few windows when i got back home, because it was still 63°F inside my house. i wanted to go down to the pharmacy to see if could get a flu shot but forgot, i'll try to do that tomorrow.
the bio-flow stick didn't seem to work, because the bathtub was still slow draining this morning. when i took another shower in the evening, plunged the tub a little bit and suddenly it was back to draining fine again. i'm not sure whether the bio-flow had anything to do with it, or was it the plungers, or a combination of both. i'll have to see how long this lasts before it starts slow draining again.
i didn't have dinner until around 10pm, just heated up a can of soup, trying to eat up some of the items i got during the height of the pandemic back in the spring. i added some frozen spinach and chopped up some carrots for some added nutrients.
when i went to go throw out the trash, i saw a pile of computer parts stacked in front of my house, obviously the work of renee. i saw something that caught my attention right away, i tried not to be too excited as i finished bringing out the trash cans.
it was a macintosh SE! my first macintosh was a macintosh plus back in 1986. i was very angry with my father when he told me he gave it away to xiaoxu without asking me first, who collects antique radios and would be interested in an old mac. i still have other macs, including a quadra 700, and various other iterations that still used a floppy drive, but the mac plus had that classic mac shape. this one was an SE, a more advanced version of the classic mac. it had 2 floppy drives, but this one was fitted with a 20MB internal hard drive (which takes up one of the floppy drive slots). the original price for this machine was $3900. it belonged to renee because her name and her husband were scratched into the case (which i covered up with a piece of electrical tape). the plastic housing was also very yellow from age, but nothing that can't be fixed using retr0bright.
there was also an old keyboard and mouse on the sidewalk, but they looked too dirty so i didn't take them. i also didn't take another mac that was out there, an LC, since i have no use for it. there was no power cable but i have plenty of those and after cleaning up the SE, i fired it up just to see if it could still run. it flashed the floppy disc icon with a question mark, meaning it couldn't find a startup disc. the slot with the internal hard drive was flashing though, but there could just be no system on that one. i have old mac system discs, so that's not a problem. but at least i know it still runs.
later in the evening i went outside and got the keyboard and mouse (ADB port versions). though dirty, i could clean them up easily, wouldn't need to dig through my old computer parts to find a matching keyboard and mouse. the keyboard is an appledesign keyboard (M2980, introduced in 1994, alps dome with slider version), not the more sought after (mechanical) apple extended keyboard (the SE originally came with the AEK). the bottom of the mouse still shows the original biege color. i wonder if renee didn't also put out an AEK but somebody already took it, knowing right away what a find it was. that could also explain the missing power cables.
finally, it was foggy tonight. fog is something we don't see much of in these here parts, so it's always a treat when we do have it. i couldn't resist taking some photos (2:30am) of the freaky weather, was almost tempted to go outside and walk around if it wasn't so late already.
i was eating some chinese dumplings for lunch while my father was trying to go over the details of some estate planning questions he had for the lawyer that was calling us at 1pm. i did some research on my own, learned more than i ever wanted to know about estate taxes. apparently there's a federal estate tax, which for 2020 has an exemption limit of $11.58 million per person (double that if you're a couple). that means for any amount over that limit, taxes must be paid before the deceased's assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries.
unfortunately a dozen states have state estate taxes, with massachusetts being one of them. not only that, but massachusetts has the lowest exemption limit of any states, set at just $1 million. also the exemption is not portable, which means spouses can't combine their exemption, which is still only $1 million. to make matters worse, massachusetts tax the entire estate, not just the amount over the exemption.
anyway, my father was trying to see if there was some way to get avoid paying the estate tax, or somehow lower it. one way is to convert the revocable trust to an irrevocable one. unfortunately their lawyer said this was a complicated matter, one that he doesn't handle, and referred us to a few other firms that specialize in irrevocable trusts. he also said they were expensive, since people who are looking into irrevocable trusts normally have the money to afford expensive lawyers.
another reason why people might get an irrevocable trust (especially seniors) is to liquidate their assets so should they need long term health care, their assets won't disqualify them from subsidized health insurance. the lawyer on the phone said an irrevocable trust is a not a guarantee for long term care, as the companies will often check beyond the 5 year statute of limit, and if they see the patients might have hidden assets, will disqualify them from signing up for subsidized care. the lawyer answered my father's questions and he'll figure out some other way to lower their assets and avoid taxes.
while my godmother stopped by to go on a walk with my mother, my father and i were out in the front yard pruning our bushes. even after we were done there was still too much hedges; come spring we plan on chopping them down even lower. i was also telling my father about how the front tire of my motorcycle felt flat. he checked it out and sure enough it was spongey. the manual tire gauge wouldn't even work it was so flat. we pumped it up to 29 psi using the compressor, now the bike handles much better, doesn't feel sluggish like before. my father also pulled the tomato that was growing in front of the house; its roots were just as tall as the plant, growing in very loamy nutrient rich soil.
afterwards we went to home depot to return the 1/2" gate valve (used for pipe plumbing) and get a brasscraft chrome straight multi-turn valve instead (used for bathrooms). i wanted to go to the cafe and do the plumbing repairs today (since the cafe was closed which meant we could turn off the water main without affecting business) but my father opted to do it tomorrow instead.
we tried the cactus pears: even though they hard to deal with (tiny thorns), they tasted pretty sweet, despite the hard seeds (which i just swallowed). like dragon fruits, they're sweet but with a nondescript flavor, almost tasteless in a pleasant sweetness. my father also make another smoothie using various leftover fruits and vegetable ingredients: beets, apples, pineapple, strawberries, honey, and celery. the vitamix blends the ingredients so well, the smoothie has a puffy airy qualify, almost like slow-churned ice cream.
the past few days have been bad for my hands. i get blisters on the edges of my index fingers from "flossing" the old lithium ion battery out of my macbook pro. i then my my fingers caught in the garage door. finally, while swapping out the thermostat at my grand uncle's upstairs apartment, i accidentally sliced my forearm with electric drill. and let's not forget when i was nearly electrocuted over the weekend i set fire to a hanging wire that fell into a daisy chain socket on top of the grow light.
for dinner we pieced together some leftovers from yesterday as well as the duck and special adzuki beans dessert my godmother dropped off earlier. i returned home afterwards, the motorcycle feeling unfamiliar as it was too maneuverable.
at 62°F, it was cold back at the house, but not as cold as yesterday. my tub was slow draining again, i dropped a stick of green gobbler bio-flow drain strip into the drain after i was done showering. i got it at home depot earlier, saw it last week when i was buying toilet repair parts, wanted to try it out. don't know how well it's going to work, i may have to resort to good old liquid plumbr to clear away the blockage, which i think is further down in the pipes.