i had a good night's sleep, it'd stopped raining, and the open window was like a natural air conditioner that wasn't too cold or too hot. i woke up at daybreak, thinking i had to bring wangyang someplace today. it took me a while to realize she was already back in china, so much have i been traumatized by their visit. i finally woke up around 9am, the noisy chatter of my next door indian neighbors, loud enough to make me wonder if they're actually arguing all the time. i still haven't met them formally, i saw them briefly when they first moved in (not realizing they were my new neighbors), neither made eye contact, they didn't seem very friendly. it doesn't matter, they'll be gone in less than a year, i'll get some new neighbors again. they do have a car with new york plates, and they've been abusing the guest permit. i saw their car getting ticketed at least once. i don't think they were home at the time, but had we been on friendlier terms, i could've warned them.
wangyang sent me photos of their rabbits, which are actually hamsters. for some reason her son doesn't allow her to tell people they have hamsters ("little mice") but instead calls them rabbits. i think it's a chinese thing, mice are considered dirty, while rabbits are more neutral. he's leaving for his grandparents' place tomorrow, wangyang will have the house to herself for the next 20 days, along with the hamsters.
my father stopped by unannounced once again, with a container of pineapple, but really just here to see if i've set up the external antennas yet. i was on my way out, to cambridge public works to get my $25 back because the city never took my old air conditioner since some metal salvagers already grabbed it the day before. then i went to tags hardware in porter square to look for a new trash can to replace the one that's got holes in it. they didn't have the 30 gallon rubbermaid roughneck, so i'll order it online through home depot instead. finally i went to star market to get a container of tide detergent (100 fl. oz. clean breeze): normally $15.99, there was a $4 sale plus an additional $3 online coupon, so just $8.99.
i had a leftover piece of corn for lunch. afterwards i tested out the 2 external antennas. from my house to the cafe using the DBJ-2 antenna, i could receive just fine with 80-90% clarity with my father transmitting on low power on is QYT radio. the MFJ seemed a little better, at 90-100% clarity. transmitting on DBJ-2, at 2m at medium power (9.2W and 15.5W respectively) my father received me at 40% clarity, while at high power (35W) clarity went up to 100%. transmission was much better on 70cm: using low power, he could hear me with 85% clarity with an SWR of 1.0 and using just 2.5W of power. i connected to the baofeng (which transmits at 5W maximum) and my father still managed to hear me at 80%. on the MFJ at 2m, only at 22W was my father able to hear me at 70%, and going higher to 42W didn't make much difference. like in the case of thr DBJ-2, at 70cm using low power he received at 95% with just 2.7W and an SWR of 1.0.
i went to market basket in the afternoon to pick up some ingredients for making broccoli cheese shells, a recipe i found online. coming back, crossing the bridge, i was looking at the excavation for some new condos. i spoke with a woman walking her down who happened to live right next door, who told me it was going to be 4 units of prefabricated condos. she also happened to live in the building with roof solar panels, i asked her about their arrangement, the panels are individual owned by different neighbors, they managed to produce enough electricity this year to not pay the electric bill a few times.
in the evening we tested the antennas again, this time seeing if we could reach my house to belmont. i wasn't able to receive on either DBJ-2 or MFJ, but when i fiddled around with the feed cable while receiving on 70cm MFJ with my father transmitting on high (max 25W), i managed to get sporadic signal. when the signal did come in, it came in clear, at 80%. i was also able to receive with the baofeng, but it was even more sporadic and positional, and when i did hear something it was just 20% clear. as for transmission, DBJ-2 on high my father could hear me 40-50% with breaks. MFJ, 2m on high (40W SWR 1.70) there was occasional signal, with clarity of 40%. on 70cm however, using medium power (9.8W SWR 1.0), my father could receive me at 100%, no breaks. so it definitely doable, communicating via 70cm simplex from my parents' place to my place. we're not sure why incoming signal is sporadic, but my father thinks i need better antenna placement.
i made broccoli cheddar cheese shells for dinner, basically just a glorified macaroni and cheese recipe. it called for making a roux using a lot of butter and onion and flour and milk, which i found totally unnecessary, and not only diluted the cheese, but give it a weird ricotto cheese consistency which i didn't like. next time, skip the roux, just melt the cheese directly onto the cooked pasta.
i got an e-mail from UPS to expect a package for tomorrow. could it be my logic board? could they have fixed it that fast? i can't think of what else it could be, since amazon never ships anything via UPS. i guess i'll find out tomorrow. the anticipation is killing me! i also contacted the craig's list seller with the 2015 15" macbook pro with 16GB/1TB for $1150. as the posting was due to expire after today, i got in touch with him to say i was interested, but wouldn't be able to buy until next week. he replied back that the laptop had already been sold. it was actually a pretty good bargain. if i see a similar deal again i'm definitely buying, even if my old MBP gets fixed. just an apple 1TB SSD flash drive costs $530.
since i've been on a device teardown kick recently (iphone 5s, macbook pro), i decided to continue the streak and open up my oneplus one android phone so i could replace the battery. i bought the phone 3-1/2 years ago (the first smart phone i bought after returning from china in 2014 and living with a ZTE smart phone there, fully realizing the OPO would not work on my verizon network), and while the battery still holds a charge, i've noticed i usually need to recharge it again in the evening otherwise it'll run out of power.
after reviewing some teardowns and watching a few videos, i went ahead and opened up the OPO. it's a lot easier to get into compared to apple products, which use proprietary screws and aren't designed to be easily opened. the back of the phone opens up after running a fingernail across half of the edge. the guts of the phone sits behind a cover that's held in place with 9 screws (3 of which are hidden behind rubber plugs, 1 behind a tamperproof sticker). once the cover was removed, i easily released the battery cable and then started removing the old battery. here's where it got a little tricky: the battery is held in place with an adhesive tape on one side. the tape is not as strong as the one found on the iphone, but it still took some work to release the battery. i used the large spatula that came with the iphone battery replacement kit. like the iphone, the OPO battery was also soft (like hard yet pliable clay), but i tried not to bend it too much, in case the new battery didn't work and i needed to go back to the old battery.
as for the new battery, there was a date on it that i assumed was the manufactured date. it said march 2015 even though i purchased it back in 2016 (the date on the old battery was november 2014, which meant it was manufactured shortly after i bought the phone in december 2014). regardless, this "new" battery had been sitting uncharged for several years, so i couldn't even be sure if it'd still work. i put it in the phone and put everything back together. when i started the phone, it gave me a low power warning in both chinese and english. afraid maybe the battery was dead, i went online looking for answers, but minutes later, the warning disappeared and the phone began showing number the charge status, starting at 0%.
i waited 2 hours before the phone finally finished charging, which is a good sign, means it's a robust battery (i would've been worried if it fully charged up in 30 minutes). i unplugged the phone to see how long it could hold a charge, and was mildly disappointed that the battery began to drain just as fast as before. but only time will tell if this new battery is okay.
my father showed up unannounced in the late morning with a bunch of radio equipment. he was swapping out the QYT radio with the higher power TYT TH-9800 radio with the 30A MFJ power supply. he also bought a bunch of antenna equipment, including a long bamboo pole and a dual band MFJ-1402B antenna. my mother called me, asking to speak with my father, who has a bad habit of leaving the ringer on his phone off so nobody can get ahold of him. she reminded him to get some supplies at market basket.
after he returned to the cafe, we tested the two radios. i was using the indoor DBJ-2 antenna. on 2m simplex i can receive him at 100% clarity since he has a better and higher antenna. however, when i transmit, he can only hear me at 40-50% clarity, regardless of power (so it seems fine to operate on low power). the SWR surprisingly was actually pretty terrible, averaging 3.5. on 70cm, i could still receive him but the clarity drops down to 40%; transmission-wise, he couldn't receive me at all regardless of power. even more of a surprise, the SWR on 70cm was actually better, averaging 1.5. switching to the MFJ antenna, at 2m i could receive 100% clarity, but my father only received my transmissions at 30% (with a likewise high SWR of around 3.0). 70cm, the SWR was 1.4, but we couldn't hear each other. afterwards i rearranged the feed cable and got the 2m SWR down to 1.12, on high power 43W he could receive me at 40-50%.
for lunch i reheated the last of my blue cheese burger patty from our 4th of july cookout nearly 2 weeks ago. it didn't smell bad, and i didn't have any negative reactions afterwards.
i checked the status of my UPS package, it arrived at the repair shop today at 2pm. all i can do now is wait. as much as i want them to repair the motherboard, i'd also like them to reattach the right speaker socket. i will be so happy if they can successfully do both. using my old 2006 core 2 duo macbook pro is okay, but the screen is dimmer, the machine is much slower, and the battery doesn't charge anymore, so if i bump into the charge port it will suddenly lose power. did i mention it also gets really hot? 140°F on the bottom. a new battery (these are externally attached, so easy to install) would just cost $20, but i'm worried about the heating issue. maybe i'll take it apart tomorrow and clean the fans.
in the afternoon it began to rain. it was a dramatic rain, where the sky darkened considerably as a warning as to what's to come. my iphone actually picked up a few emergency weather alerts, the possibility of flash floods and tornadoes elsewhere. i don't mind the rain so much but the rain drops beating on the metal shell of the window air conditioner was deafening.
in the early evening my father called me to test the radio again, this time from belmont. he was just using his baofeng but with the chimney antenna while i used the TYT and switched between the DBJ-2 and the MFJ antennas. it didn't matter, because we still couldn't hear each other. it may be weather-related as there were still storm clouds and thundering, we'll try again tomorow. he also wants me to mount a few antennas outside to test.
i did a load of laundry, washing the guest bedroom bedsheets in anticipation of my roommate's return on sunday. he said he might return earlier if there wasn't anything important left to do at amherst.
in the evening i had to plug in my OPO phone, so much for the new battery. but in it's defense, i was using the phone quite heavily, including watching a 40 minute long discussion of the merits of john carpenter's 1982 "the thing". i think if i were to use the phone as normal, it would last the whole day without needing to recharge.
for dinner i finished the leftover spaghetti from last week, cooking some new pasta noodles and tossing in ample amounts of parmesan cheese and arugula.
amazon prime day ends tonight. late last night i bought an asus RT-ACRH13 router. it typically sells for $70 but the prime day sale dropped it down to just $45. it can't use 3rd party firmware (like asuswrt-merlin) but it has tons of features, including VPN support and USB 3.0 server. i also got a tube of thermal paste (arctic MX-4 carbon paste $6.84), for when the logic board comes back (hopefully fixed) and i need to reattach the heatsink. tonight i ordered a few things unrelated to amazon prime: aqua seal washer ($10 for 10) and a 3-pak of compressed air ($7.62).
parked on my bedroom desk with the hot halogen lamp on, i spent an hour this morning disassembling my mid-2012 macbook pro to remove the logic board. it wasn't that hard, just a bunch of screws to unfasten and ribbon clips to release, but i made a mistake removing the right speaker cable and ended up prying off the entire socket. i wrote to the repair service to find out if they could also reattach the socket; i got a response minutes later saying the technician will do the best he can. i'm using an online repair service via ebay, where i just send them my logic board and they fix it and send it back. i'm not sure how well it works, but there's a money back guarantee if they can't fix it, and it's the difference between $130 (for the logic board repair) versus $485 (to buy a used replacement logic board).
despite the inconvenience of all those screws and fasteners, there's a certain elegance inside the macbook pro. the logic board - the heart of the machine - is much smaller than i'd imagine. the board itself also can be removed without touching the CD-ROM or the hard drive.
i went down to the basement to find a suitable box to put the logic board, along with some bubble wrap. i used a small amazon box and the packaging material i pulled from an old broken HDTV circuit board. i also added the detached socket in a small bag, it'd be awesome if they can put it back. they recommended UPS or fedex instead of USPS, so i went to the nearest UPS store on somerville avenue. i was thinking it'd set me back $20 but the shipping cost was just $10 and scheduled to arrive by tomorrow. maybe if i'm lucky i can get my macbook pro up and running by next week. if it can't be fixed, i'll spend the $1000 and buy a used macbook pro, one with a 15" retina screen and a 1TB hard drive, i've seen two possible candidates on craig's list.
nothing i can do now but pray to the god of macintosh for a successful repair and a speedy return.
i finally went to belmont in the early afternoon, biking on the fuji. it was so hot, riding the motorcycle would've been the better choice, but the honda was in my parents' garage, so i decided i would ride it back when i returned home, leaving the bicycle for the time being. i had some noodles for lunch. i was thinking about mowing the lawn but it was just too hot, so i stayed inside for much of the day, only going out in the late afternoon to water the garden, inspect the plants, and to chase a rabbit out of the backyard. i also pulled up all my garlics: bigger thant they were back in the fall, but still small by garlic size. i'm thinking about eating this haul and then buying larger garlic cloves to plant come september-october.
i returned home in the early evening, not nearly as tired since i took the motorcycle. i tried the lush shampoo bar wangyang gave me, like soap for your hair, although nothing says i couldn't just use it as a regular bar of soap. i didn't apply any conditioner afterwards. it gave me hair more body i noticed, but a little frizzy, which could just be because of the humidity.
i spent the rest of the evening topless, scouring amazon prime for deals (the only thing i bought was a 64GB sandisk memory card for $14) on my hot old macbook pro, the fan blasting from the coffee table.
i slept in my own bed for the first time this month (although to be honest, ever since we got back from new york city and i got off the couch and started sleeping in the guest bedroom since my roommate is temporarily out of town, and the heatwave was finally broken, i've been sleeping much better). the house seems to be back to normal after the cleaning i did last night, though i'm still finding stray hairs and the floor feels greasy in some spots. there's a lot of leftover food in the house which i won't touch until next week.
i rode the fuji to my parents' place. i wore long pants thinking it'd be cool today but soon realized i made a mistake; i changed into a pair of my father's gym shorts when i got to belmont. the world cup match between france and croatia had just started, i watched while eating some leftover korean soondae and market basket wings.
france ending up beating croatia to a score of 4-2. it was a crazy game, croatia scored on itself, only to come back and tie, before frances regains the lead on a penalty goal kick. in the second half france went up by 2 points to take the score to a nearly unbeatabl 4-1, and croatia seemed resigned to their defeat until they scored an easy goal to make it 4-2 and give them some momentum. alas, it wasn't enough. the best was the end of the game during the award ceremony. the sky threatened torrential downpours all day that never did seem to come during the open stadium game, until the match was over, and then it began to pour. for some reason putin was there to greet the players, as well and french president macron and croatian president. while everyone was getting drenched, putin was the only person who had a personal security guard holding an umbrella over his head. what a host! for the losing team, at least in the rain nobody can see you cry.
i went with my sister to target to return the child booster seat i didn't need anymore. return was quick, just a few seconds, they didn't even need to see my credit card. one thing they asked if the seat's been used: they will accept a used seat, but for sanitation reasons they can only dispose of it and not resell it; fortunately this seat was never used, still in its original packaging. afterwards i bought a target watermelon for $5.
today turned out to be a hot and humid day, the start of what looks to be a sub-heatwave in the coming week. supposedly it was supposed to rain but never did.
we barbecued some italian sausages and honey-mustard marinated drumsticks and grilled a salted rainbow trout for dinner. i biked home afterwards in the daylight (7pm), returning to an empty house (at least until next week).
(i'm working off of my old 2006 macbook pro. it's quick enough for some common tasks but the screen brightness is very faint due to age and is prone to overheating. full-on blogging will have to wait until i can get my mid-2012 macbook pro fixed. i'm due for a computer upgrade anyway: it seems about every 5-6 years i get a new machine: 2001, 2006, 2013).
i tried not to seem too happy that wangyang and her son were finally leaving today. we cooked up some frozen microwave pancakes for breakfast, i broke out a stick of fresh butter along with the maple syrup. wangyang asked me when we were leaving for the airport. her direct hainan airline flight back to shanghai was at 4:30pm, i told her the recommended time for international flights was 3 hours before departure, so we'd leave at around 1pm. she asked if we could leave earlier, as she wanted to buy some stuff at the duty free shop. leave early? perfectly fine by me!
as there was still some time, wangyang wanted to go down to harvard square to get some souvenirs from the coop. the moment she said that i knew what she really wanted: for me to babysit her son while she went out shopping. i told her i wouldn't do it. she's pulled this trick before and i wasn't going to fall for it again. besides (i didn't say this), but there was no guarantee i wouldn't murder him if he started another tantrum. i suggested an alternative plan: we'd all go down to harvard square, touch john harvard's foot, they go shopping at the coop while i get some famous cannolis from mike's pastry harvard store. easier said than done of course, since thomas once again didn't want to leave the house. we had to bribe him with a visit to the ward map store afterwards, where he could buy a MBTA trolley toy. we didn't leave until almost 11am.
when we got to harvard yard, thomas didn't want to get his photo taken with the harvard statue and wandered off (pretending to run away, but like the chickenshit that he is, always within eyesight of us), while i took a quick snapshot for wangyang. i dropped them at the coop while i left for the pastry shop. there was a handful of indecisive tourists inside the store, and two bored employees waiting for them to make an order. i bought a regular cannoli and a mocha cannoli ($4 each) and left with their eponymous box.
back at the coop, i tracked down wangyang. thomas was running around the store, touch things without supervision, frequently complaining to his mother about when we'd go back home. wangyang didn't seem concerned, but i was nervous her son might break something in the store, with the stacks of harvard mugs seemingly seconds away from crashing to the floor. she wanted to buy a t-shirt for her son but he wasn't interested. i was glad when we finally left.
even though we were heading back home, thomas was still complaining, and wouldn't even walk with us, preferring to walk on the other side of the street. as they didn't have much time anyway, it finally got to the point where it wasn't worth going to ward map anymore. once wangyang realized this, i quickly walked home by myself, leaving her to negotiate with her son back to the house. she came home after a while, but just by herself. she went to the bedroom to start packing. i thought she left thomas at the playground, but he was sitting on my neighbor's porch, sulking by himself. as this was embarassing to me, i went outside and told thomas to get inside and pack his things as we were about to leave for the airport. he reluctantly came in, grabbed his one suitcase, and waited in the foyer while he mother continued packing. at that point i really didn't give a shit. all i knew was that in another hour or so i'd be rid of them, and never have to see thomas ever again, the worst thing that's happens to me in a long time.
wangyang and i were still chatty and friendly, but it felt like pretending, as the elephant in the room was her son, still sulking. i opened the box of cannolis for her to try. of course she had to share some with her son, taking a piece into the foyer. i almost told her these were for her only, and that thomas couldn't have any. we finally left around 12:45pm. her son suddenly seemed to be in a happier mood.
we arrived at the airport by 1:15pm, still plenty of time and on schedule. while wangyang and i were busy taking out the suitcases from the trunk, thomas ran off to play with the luggage carts. when it came time to say good bye, it was mostly me talking, as wangyang was wrangling her son to say something, but he said nothing, not a single word, just squirmed and smirked. that rude little shit made my past 2 weeks a living hell and he wasn't even going to say good bye. that's so thomas! i actually said, "until we meet again!" which made me laugh on the inside because there was absolutely zero chance i would ever meet thomas again. well, maybe at his funeral, but not while he's alive.
leaving logan airport, i must've made it to belmont in record time (just 20 minutes), my emancipation run down storrow drive. there was hardly any traffic on a saturday afternoon. while i was having noodles for lunch, wangyang texted me they already went through customs and everything was okay. she also told me she left $200 in the back of the car. i complained that she shouldn't have, but actually, it's the least she could do for putting my life through hell.
while my father i worked in the backyard, my mother went with my godmother to h-mart, and didn't return until the early evening.
after dinner my father gave me a ride back to cambridge. the first thing i did was to wash all the sheets in my bedroom. just as i feared, there were blood stains from thomas' wounds, not just on the sheets, but somehow on the walls as well. fortunately it didn't get on the mattress. while the washing machine was running, i also vacuumed the house, picking up all the crumbs and hair they left behind. only then did it start feeling normal again.
before wangyang arrived, i was so excited about her visit. despite being here for only 2 weeks (minus 3 days in new york city), i'd planned all sorts of things to do and see and eat: daytrip to cape cod, a hike in the forest, wrentham village for some outlet shopping, a tour of boston, barbecue at my parents' place. we ended up doing almost none of those things.
first, there was the thing with her 6-7 year old son, who turned out to be history's greatest monster. we ended up doing what he wanted to do, which was very little. then there was the weather, that first week in boston with the heat wave that made outdoor traveling unbearable. maybe with some other guests that would just be a minor inconvenience, but the chinese are adversed to sun exposure, fearful of getting tanned. so that entire first week was wasted, i wasn't able to give them a tour of boston (which is my specialty, i've given so many to past roommates), we didn't even get to tour neighboring harvard square before thomas threw a tantrum and we returned home prematurely. the only things we did was visit the galleria mall, dinner at the shake shack, lobster for lunch in chinatown (which is ironic, since it's one of the few places they actually managed to visit in boston), primark, 4th of july barbecue, 4th of july fireworks (thomas throws an epic tantrum with crying and kicking in a crowded place), saw my garden plot, ride the commuter rail to the north end, and quincy market. fortunately i had the foresight to book us tickets on the duck tour that friday, so at the very least they could get a glimpse of boston before leaving for new york city for the weekend.
as for NYC, we didn't do much there either. we had tickets to the tour bus, but wangyang and her son were so adversed to sun, they spent half the time in the lower deck where you couldn't see anything. there was the empire state building, but we went during peak sunset hours and the place was crowded and i don't know if they got a good view. there was the natural history museum, which we separated, so i don't know if they saw all the highlights (i never asked). finally, they went on a harbor cruise around the statue of liberty, but wangyang said she hardly saw it because thomas had his accident the moment they arrived and she spent much of the time below deck once again so he could get first aid. new york also has some great restaurants, none of which we tried since our evening plans always ended in a thomas tantrum.
despite it all, i actually had a good time in new york, not having to take care of a spoiled kid. i loved the tour buses, never seen the city from that vantage point before. it's probably my second time visiting the empire state building, and despite the crowd, i got some good looks (next time: rockefeller: when you're on the empire state, you can't see the building itself). and i got some great food, including one of the most delicious korean fried chicken i've ever had from korea town and even managed to take a little side trip to flushing to get a haircut and some smelly tofu. plus, 2 nights in a hotel, the first time i've been alone in weeks.
when we returned to boston for that second week the weather was better, plus my roommate was gone, so we had the whole house to ourselves. i also had the car, which made for visiting places a lot easier. even then, we didn't do much: market basket, target (somerville and watertown), galleria mall (again), mt.auburn cemetery (washington tower), museum of fine art (using my sister's free pass), gyu-kaku korean barbecue for lunch. wangyang took her son to the aquarium one day, and coming back they revisited primark.
and that was it. there's a chinese saying, "可惜," which translates to "it's a pity," and that's how i feel about the past 2 weeks. it could've been so much better, and it should've been so much better, as i've spent pretty much my whole life living in boston, so she couldn't have found anyone else better to introduce her to the city. alas, her son was just too much to handle. had he been an obedient little boy things would've been different. but he really was the worst. bringing him to the US was not only a waste of money but a waste of time, not only for wangyang, but for me as well. when he grows up he'll hardly remember his time here, since he saw even less of the US than us. i of course will never invite them back ever again, or perhaps just wangyang, minus her terrible kid.