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so does yesterday count as a day off even though i went to work for a few hours? whatever it was, i knew today would be a full day of work, starting from this morning when i left for the cafe at 8:50am. i thought i'd get there before my parents but they got there before me.

wednesday mornings mean preparing bento orders for kathy's grandsons and classmates. she texted and called around 9:30am, same number of children, change up the order, we decide what to include. she called later close to 11am, said she was stuck in traffic, and asked us to bring the takeout orders to her car in order to save time.

after kathy picked up the order and dropped them off, she came back to the cafe to pay. she told us some bad news: the school was no longer allowing food deliveries because some parents complained. apparently the school food at BB&N is bad parents have been outsourcing their children's lunches. the school has promised to upgrade their food service while at the same time banning outside food deliveries. this should be good news because i've always hated preparing special lunches for these rich private school kids, with their custom orders, each with their names on it in individual bags. but it makes me sad to lose this business. it was something to look forward to, that we could start off wednesday morning with a big order.

i made a new batch of tea eggs yesterday, and i made a new batch today as well. my sister showed up with esmei in the morning. later i found out she came by to work, but when she saw that i was there, she ended up taking the day off instead. i saw esmei again later in the early afternoon when my sister was taking her out by car. my sister just left her in the car. when i went to go see her she sat up, but later laid back down. she could probably stay in the car for an hour, just looking out the window, which seems to be something she enjoys the most. i noticed the fur on her left arm was growing back, but her belly fur is still pretty bare. i saw esmei on final time in the late afternoon when my sister brought her back to the cafe.

it was really busy in the late morning heading into lunchtime. a sudden influx of customers in additional to online and phone orders. it's weird how all these people who don't know each other all decided they wanted to eat at the cafe at the same time.

i had some sour dough bread for lunch as well as a machine made meat bun. the dough was really weird, really white, and had an unnaturally soft marshmallow like consistency. it was okay though, not a lot of filling but still good and cheap (my sister ordered it online from weee!).

my 2nd aunt finally showed up in the late afternoon, after returning from taiwan monday night (my father went to the airport close to 10pm to pick her up). we thought she'd come yesterday but she said she slept all day at home. she arrived with some confections she bought in taiwan to give me. not a whole lot, more like a goodwill gesture. because my 2nd aunt was there, i felt safe enough to leave (she could help out if it got busy again). i may also take tomorrow off, since that's traditionally been one of the days i have off. i can maybe go running in the morning, get some gardening done, and do some errands.

i got home before 4pm. it was supposed to rain this morning but only a brief shower at best. now a second batch of rain was approaching, looked more ominous with clouds that darkened the sky. but it too only brought a brief downpour, last no more than a minute before the sun and the blue sky started peeking out again. a freeze warning has been issued tonight for the greater boston area, as the temperature will dip below freezing. fortunately i haven't planted anything outside yet other than some peas but they'll be okay.

my upstairs neighbors told me there left for vermont this morning and won't be back until saturday afternoon. then next tuesday they leave for the vineyard. i was surprised when they told jeff wasn't moving back in (for a 3rd summer) but instead they found somebody else, a woman. i should reach out and get in touch with jeff, maybe invite him over during the summer for a backyard barbecue. it's a bummer he's not staying here again, but he told me last year it was getting hard for his company to justify the cost when he only spends half the time here in cambridge and the other time on the west coast.

tteokbokki (떡볶이)
(1 serving)

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

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

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

7 oz. fried tofu wedges
(half package)

3 scallions, chopped


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

i made korean rice cakes (tteokbokki) for dinner. it's been a while (last time was back in early november), and i was motivated because i had some fried tofu wedges that were set to expire (who am i kidding: they expired back in february, i figured i should finally eat them now). the recipe isn't too hard as long as you have all the ingredients handy. it took 15 minutes to make the seaweed/dashi broth, then another 8-10 minutes to cook the rice cakes in the spicy tteokbokki sauce.

i ate while watching game 2 between the heat and the celtics. a lot of people were expecting boston to sweep miami - especially without jimmy butler - but leave it to boston to defy expectations and went on to lose the game 111-101. the heat made 23 3-pointers, which is a new franchise record. celtics had chances to put the game away, but gave the heat just a glimmer of hope so that in the second half miami just torched the celtics. next game is saturday 6pm in miami.

my mother said i could have today off, and could take the whole week off if i wanted. i figured at the very least i could get to the cafe late, work during the busy lunchtime period, then leave by the afternoon to do some yardwork in belmont. i woke up by 9am and ran some errands via bicycle. i went to harvard vanguard to pick up a prescription for my mother. then i went to whole foods to return a few amazon items. finally i went to market basket to get a few supplies.

i returned home, switched to my motorcycle, then rode to the cafe. i got there around 10:45am, just in time for my mother to tell me they just in a large grubhub delivery order for a noontime delivery. there was a total of 19 entrees (11 of which were bento boxes) and several additional orders of tea eggs, basically using up most of our tea egg supply. my mother called my sister for additional help and i brought up the large folding table from the basement so we could assemble the order.

as much as we love big orders, we typically get a day or two advance notice. this one caught us by surprise, with just 1-1/2 hours to prepare everything. plus it was right during the busy lunchtime period, so we'd have to field additional incoming orders on top of this large order. my sister guessed this might be for some office lunch, as the item order was sort of random, and a lot of entrees also had customization, like additional hot sauces or no eggs.

fortunately we managed to fulfill the order without drama. it was marked ready on the grubhub app, a driver arrived shortly afterwards, and we made enough money from a single order that it basically equaled a day's profit. any additional earnings today would just be a bonus.

i brought the 2nd onn streaming box that i was playing with last night and hooked it up to the cafe HDTV. it worked remarkably well, and now we can watch streams using the remote (a lot more intuitive) instead of chromecasting from a phone.

according to plan, i stuck around until 1:30pm when it looked like business was starting to taper off. i rode off to belmont to do some yard work. but first i installed the iyf.tv app onto the onn streaming box using the OTG adapter and a USB thumb drive.

i had a few backyard projects to work on, but decided to make some raised bed fences, particularly for the newly upgraded RB3 which doesn't have a fence like all the other raised beds. my father and i made these fences last april. since then i'd forgotten how we made them. fortunately we prepared all the pieces last year, so the hard part had already been taken care of. i just needed to piece everything together.

it slowly came back to me while i worked, using a previous fence as a template and guide. the weather was also very pleasant - 60's, warm, sunny, blue sky, little wind - i worked in a t-shirt. first i unfurled a 4ft length of chicken wire fencing. i then stapled the fencing to two corners of the wooden frame. next i screwed on a short piece of wood on each corner, before repeating these steps on the other side of the fence with the other two corners. once that was done, i added more staples around the perimeter to secure the chicken wire. the first one took me nearly half an hour to make, but i got faster with each successive fence, until i got it down to 15 minutes per fence. i only made 4 pieces however, even though i had enough materials to make 6. that's not actually true, i split two corner pieces, so the most i could've made was 5 pieces. but i only needed 4 pieces to make an enclosure, so that's how many i made.

i was finished by 3:40pm. i then watered the raised beds and other parts of the backyard. i didn't leave belmont until 4:20pm, didn't realize it was so late. it took me about 20 minutes to get home - a little longer than usual because of the traffic. i had to circle my neighborhood twice before i found a parking spot. parking has become quite the nightmare recently, i pray for neighbors to die so new carless neighbors can move in, i'm afraid that's the only solution.

i went across the street to star market to get some gold nugget oranges on sale ($3 for a 2lbs. bag) and some 1L polar seltzer and tonic water.

i stayed home the rest of the day. it felt weird to be not working, even though i did work for a few hours today.

when evening arrived i took a shower then reheated the bean soup bruce gave me on saturday. i added too much water to constitute the thick soup so it turned a little bland. i added some mexican cheese blend and some habanero hot sauce which made it taste better. besides beans, there's also bit of bacon, which is never a bad thing. i felt full afterwards.

the bucks lost game 2 at home in their playoff series against the pacers, 125-108. i didn't watch the game but had my eye on the score. they are the first home team in this year's playoff to lose.

i ordered a set of 4 pairs of brass quick release garden hose fitting ($15). the ones that we have don't work very well. the original brass pairs worked great, then i got some chinese knockoffs that looked similar but were made from cheaper aluminum. they had a tendency to leak. so i was looking for a new set. i figured the best material would be brass, but some youtube videos made me realize that stainless steel is even better, but more expensive as well.

i slept well past 10am this morning, which i haven't done in months. after a shower, i did some work with my grow closet. some pots contain more than one seedlings: i can either thin them out, or try to salvage them by transplanting them to new pots. i had a bunch of buttercup squashes to save, as well as a slew of tomato seedlings. there's also the opposite situation where seeds never sprouted. that includes the ground cherries, all the taiwanese kabocha squash except for one, all the bitter melons, and all the taiwanese white luffa. if after 3 weeks and they still haven't germinated, there's a good chance they never will. i'm still hopeful that maybe something might happen (especially if i try using the heat mat), but i gave up on the ground cherries, reused those pots for something else. for the bitter melons, i replanted a dozen new seeds, maybe the previous batch was bad.

my mother called while i was working on the grow closet, said she and my father were going on a restaurant depot supply run. i said i wanted to go as well because afterwards i can get a ride back to belmont and take out the motorcycle from the garage. my father called back minutes later, said it was easier for them to hit restaurant depot first before picking me up on their way back. i was fine that, gave me more time to take care of my plants. the last thing i did was set up a fan on the top level of my grow closet, using a length of CAT5 ethernet cable.

my parents didn't show up until almost 1pm. i went with them to the cafe to drop off the supplies. besides restaurant depot, they also went to bianco & sons as well as aldi.

when we got to belmont, my mother was making wonton soup for lunch while i was in the garage reinstalling my motorcycle battery which had been trickle charging indoors all winter. my mother came out to tell me lunch was ready.

i got a chance to play around with the led neon string light. i bought it nearly a month ago, will return it sometime this week. the simple RGBIC string light i bought works well enough; besides, those are cheaper at just $10 for 16ft, while these (16ft) are $30. the UI for neon string light is a lot better, and the animation and the colors are better too. it's definitely pretty, but i don't have any use for it.

i helped my father reconnect the 100W solar panels to our lithium batteries. here's the thing: when a solar panel isn't connected to a battery, it will only show voltage, no amperage. we forgot this fact and for a while was afraid maybe our panel was broken or maybe the wires had gone bad for being exposed to the elements all winter long. our little 12V 35Ah sealed lead acid battery seemed to have died because we didn't charge it all winter. so instead we hooked the solar panel to one of our 100Ah LiFePO4 batteries, along with the inline 10A 12V MPPT charge controller.

after we hooked up the solar panel to the battery, we then hooked up the battery to the on-demand rain barrel pump. before we could get the garden hose out of the garge, we first had to move my motorcycle. my father helped me lower the bike from the jack and then helped me push the bike out of the garage. it took a few tries (i even had to open the choke) but i finally got the engine running, parked the motorcycle on the curb.

only then were we able to bring out the garden hose. we probably need to get a new one, this one is all kinked up and no longer rubbery. we fired up the pump and managed to water the plants on our raised beds.

i was in the basement watering the plants in the grow room. the gardenia still doesn't have any flower buds. i was then out in the backyard cleaning up the pruned maple branches. i also cut off all the bull shoots from our hop bines. plus i dug up some mint rhizomes growing out on the lawn. there's still a bunch of gardening stuff i need to do, hopefully i can do that tomorrow afternoon. my parents told me i can have the day off but i think i'll still go to the cafe anyway just to help out until after the busy lunch period.

my two walmart onn-brand streaming boxes arrived today. i got a chance to set up one of them. for $20 it's a steal, so much better than my xiaomi mi streaming box. the interface is cleaner, everything moves faster, and integration with youtube tv and other streaming apps (like pluto tv, netflix) is seamless. i plan on leaving one at my parents' place and installing the other one at the cafe, but i kind of want one of my own as well. i wasn't able to install the iyf.tv app because i didn't have an OTG cable.

my mother made 3 different stirfry for dinner: pork with hot peppers, chicken with chinese celery, and eggs with bokchoi. we finished some leftover rice from saturday.

i left around 7:30pm. i mounted the 360 camera onto the handlebar as i rode home, the start of the riding season. what a joy it is to not have to pedal anymore! getting home, it took me a while to find parking, only because i didn't want to be an asshole and take up an entire parking spot. i find a place on one of the side streets.

i did some research, it seems bitter melon needs high temperature to germinate (80-90 degrees ideally). and even then it takes about 2 weeks for the seeds to sprout. so i rolled out my heating mat. i decided to put the luffa seeds on the mat as well, so i didn't have enough space for the bitter melons. i'll need to get the second heating mat from belmont. speaking of seeds, i also ordered some more seeds from ebay: 10 kabocha seeds ($3.39), 30 long horn pepper seeds ($3.99, got them last year but can't find them anymore), and 20 F1 white "meat" luffa seeds ($5.99).

i set up the second onn box at home. i fished out the OTG cable that i purchased from temu a while back and was happy to see that it worked and was able to recognize my USB drive which had the ify.tv app. now i really want one for myself, to replace the xiaomi streaming box which is starting to show its age (got it back in july 2020).

i went to sleep last night at 4am. since i had nothing going on today, it was one of those rare nights where i could afford to stay up late, so i lost track of time. despite going to bed late, i still woke up relatively early, around 9am.

i visited my community garden plot for the very first time this season. i was expecting it to be crowded, but i was the only person there. i guess it wasn't warm enough for people to start thinking about gardening, though here and there i saw other gardeners had already organized their plots, if not actively growing anything yet. i brought along my 3 milk crates that i use as bases for my grow bags. some of the grow bags had toppled over, i flipped them back up. i did a bit of weeding. i have a total of 8 10 gallon grow bags but i only have two 50L bags of potting soil back at home, which is only enough soil for about 25 gallons. i'm probably going to have to mix the new soil with the old soil as i don't have enough to go around, and then spike it with organic fertilizer come planting time. i weeded the garden paths as well, pulling up about a dozen dandelions and a handful of creeping buttercups. finally i signed up to take out the garden refuse bins though i forgot to sign up for a work day.

i left the community garden by 11:10am, after spending about 25 minutes there. after returning home, i left shortly afterwards and biked to belmont. i was bringing gyro ingredients plus i stopped by the cafe to pick up a few more things.

when i got to belmont my mother said my parents were going with my sister to the decordova museum around 1pm. i told her i wasn't interested in going as there was a heat-celtics playoff game.

i was then outside with my father. he had started a smokey fire in our homemade fire pit, burning the decomposing wooden remnants of raised bed 3. he also brought out the new wood we'd bought last autumn specifically to replace RB3. while he was still tending to the fire, i brought out all the jasmines so they could get some sun. i thought today was supposed to be a sunny day, but it turned out to be overcast and windy, with temperature only in the 50's.

we started cutting the wood with a circular saw. it's been a dream of mine to own a compound miter saw. the diameter of the circular saw blade simply wasn't large enough to completely cut the 4x4" square post we were using as raised bed corners/anchors. we ended up having to cut the wood on each face (4 times total) and even then there was still a tiny bit of wood left in the center that was still attached that we needed to break off. we cut 4 corner posts each about a foot in length (our original post was 8ft long). the wooden planks was easier to cut, after measuring the exact middle, we simply cut one in half.

we originally built our raised beds using untreated lumber that we then treated with linseed oil, figuring that was a safer option. but pressure treated woods these days use micronized copper azole (MCA) which is much safer for gardens than chromated copper arsenate (CCA, used until 2004) which contains arsenic and chromium besides copper. only time will tell how long this new raised bed will last. all our old raised beds are in various stages of falling apart, but the worst was RB3. we may need to fix a few more raised beds before the growing season comes to a full swing.

we started attaching the corner posts to one of the long 8ft planks. this gave us a chance to use the ryobi impact drill we got back in december. at first we thought we didn't have enough 3" outdoor deck screws (even after salvaging the old ones from the broken raised bed, the screws were in surprisingly good shape considering they'd be left out in the elements for nearly 2 decades), but i found a box of leftovers and we just barely had enough (16 screws needed total, 4 for each corners). having used my sister's bosch impact drill, we knew what to expect. we didn't do any predrilling, so the wood had a tendency to lift; we solved that problem by backing out the screw (to remove the lift) and drilling it back in again which seemed to do the trick. i think we could've done it with a regular drill, but that would definitely require predrilling. with the impact drill, the wood was no match and each screw was embedded deeply with no fears they'd come loose.

it was at that point that my sister finally showed up. actually, esmei showed up first, barreling into the backyard, grabbing the first hand tool she saw and running away with it. she'd never seen fire before and was curious though weary of the flames coming from the pit. she even crouched down in a stalking pose and stared at the fire while my father tended to the burning wood.

my parents left with my sister around 2pm. the raised bed was partially complete, posts attached to long planks, but end planks still needed to be attached.

i went inside the house to watch the heat-celtics game which had already started around 1pm. i just caught the end of the 2nd quarter, boston had a sizable lead. my mother baked me a croissant and some soy milk with blended squash. she'd prepared it as soon as i got home, but i was outside working and didn't realize food was ready. i ate that as well as a plate of pan-fried chinese dumplings. my clothes smelled of wood smoke, but is actually a nice scent, reminds me of camping.

celtics ended up winning 94-114. the heat never led in the game, the celtics at one point had a 34 point lead. boston sort of relaxed in the 4th quarter and allowed miami to cut the lead close to single digits, before a time out fixed the problem with just minutes left in the game.

everyone returned by 4pm. once again esmei was a menace in the backyard, running around, crashing into things, digging holes, stealing tools. she seemed smaller today, maybe all that brushing reduced her undercoat. my sister eventually took her home.

my father and i finished assembling the raised bed. we flipped it over and moved to where the old raised bed used to be. after digging around the perimeter and making holes for the corner posts, the new raised bed locked into position. it sits slightly higher than the old bed, but that was mainly because after so many years, it sort of sank down into the soil. being slightly elevated is a good thing, keeps most of the wood out of the dirt. but the dirt level inside the raised bed seemed slightly less. overall i think we did a pretty good job. the next thing we need to do is build fencing for this raised bed, to protect th plants. it's our only raised bed that doesn't have fencing, because when we were making them last season, this bed was in such bad shape we didn't bother.

my mother also wanted to grill some wings while my father and i were working. we didn't have time to keep an eye on the chicken so a few pieces got especially charred. after we finished installing the new raised bed, we went inside to eat some wings.

as late afternoon transitioned into evening, i moved all the potted plants back inside the sunroom. for dinner we had some homemade gyro, heating the costco-purchased shawarma sausages in the air fryer, then assembling them into a sandwich with pita bead, tzatziki, feta cheese, lettuce, and tomato. the shawarma smelled good, but it had a ground meat consistency, not like a real shawarma/gyro.

i got back home by 8pm. bucks beat the pacers, thunder beat the pelicans. basically in this first round of the the NBA playoffs, seems like every home team won their first game.

i could've slept late but still woke up around 9am. outside was the sound of heavy rain. i prepared to leave for work but finished earlier than i expected, so i had nothing to do but wait. i didn't leave until 10:45am, the rain now just a faint drizzle. i didn't arrive at the cafe until almost 11am, banking on my parents to get there before me to open the store. thankfully they did, even went on a costco supply run this morning. they got a hot dog for me which i had for lunch.

i went over to my sister's place because she said her internet was down. when i got there it started working again, she just didn't wait long enough after reseting the modem and router. i saw esmei briefly, bumbling around the house with her cone.

the house finally passed new aid to ukraine, israel, and taiwan. i was trying to watch the proceedings live but the only US broadcast was c-span and i needed a cable service account to access it. i ended up watching it on DW (deutsche welle) of all places, the germany public broadcast streaming live on youtube.

for much of the day it wasn't busy (which is unusual, saturday is one of our busiest days). a large double family group came to eat brunch in the afternoon which saved us from a total wash. they nearly cleaned out our supply of beef noodle soup, we'll need to make a new batch tuesday morning.

xiaojun popped up again at the cafe right when we were about to close. thankfully she left soon afterwards.

while my parents drove back to belmont after we closed, i went at my own pace via bicycle. by that point it wasn't raining anymore, but dark grey clouds said it might rain again at any moment.

i ordered a pair of onn (walmart brand) 4K streaming box ($20/each). i've been wanting to get one for the cafe for almost half a year now. the problem is i need to buy over $35 to qualify for free shipping, and i don't need anything else from walmart. so i ended up just getting two, figured i could use the spare elsewhere. it's essentially a google tv streaming device, but with the proper cable, i can install 3rd party software, like the iyf app. also a streaming box with it's own remote is a lot easier to use than chromecasting from a phone, which is how we've been accessing streaming content on the cafe tv. speaking of which, i noticed on the walmart website that a walmart-brand 32" 720p HDTV with built-in roku now just sells for $88.

my parents made chinese dumplings for dinner (pork and garlic chives). i tried my hands at making a few dumplings, just got some ridicule before i gave up. i think with enough practice i could fold some decent dumplings, but i was just slowing them down.

i left for cambridge by 6:20pm, stopping every so often to admiring some flowering tree or two. after dropping off my things at home, i left for market basket to pick up some gyro ingredients (tzatziki, pita bread, feta cheese). i've discovered market basket isn't very busy saturday evenings, a good time to go grocery shopping if you want to avoid the crowd.

i was finally back at home around 7pm. i contacted bruce, who this morning said he had some bean soup if i was interested. i went over to his place to pick up the leftovers, where both he and jack greeted me. they told me that dennis was in a pretty serious bicycle accident a few weeks ago, broke a few bones including his collarbone and his hip. to make matters worse, susan contracted covid and managed to give it to dennis as well, so he's been holed up at home for the time being.

a bunch of NBA playoff games started today. cavaliers beat the magic, timberwolves beat the suns. when i got home the sixers were facing the knicks. it was a slugfest between two closely matched teams, especially down in the final stretch. i was rooting for the sixers, with an obvious still recovering embiid fighting to compete even though he had no lift in his legs. at one point he landed awkwardly and fell to the ground, one of his eyes spasming like he was stroking out. knicks ended up winning, 111-104. finally the last game was between the lakers and nuggets. i was rooting for LA, who played well the first half, but denver took control in the second half to finally win it 103-114.

i left for boston at 8:40am this morning. first stop was haymarket, which i haven't been since early february, more than 2 months ago. i was in search of gold nugget oranges - i remember they're usually available this time of the year - but no vendors carried them. in the end my haul: 2 bags of mandarin oranges ($3 each), bundle of swiss chard ($1.50), black plums (4 for $2), nectarines (4 for $2), sleeve of garlic ($2), box of blackberries ($2).

next i went to chinatown. i visited c-mart first to get some mirin (ming's market doesn't carry any, i got some kikkoman brand for $5.49). they also seemed to have a sale on baby bokchoi ($1.48/lbs) so i got two bags. i then headed to ming's market. i was shocked to learn that they were selling bokchoi for just 69¢/lbs. price comparison shopping fail! i finished gathering supplies - including some hair dye my father wanted (bigen 6, $7.99) - before finally leaving by 10:20am.

returning home, i decided to take the longer but more scenic way following the charles river all the way back to cambridge. i set up my 360 camera so i could capture all the cherry blossoms i'd pass by. the ride took 36 minutes, i cut through harvard square to gt back home by 11am.

i didn't stay too long, just enough to change out of my sweat-soaked clothes before heading to the cafe. i didn't get there until 11:15am. my mother said they pretty busy, already fulfilling 3 ubereats takeout orders.

i went over to my sister's place to grab ahold of esmei while my sister administered some medication: eye drops, ear drops, ear cleaning. esmei was having none of it, buckling like a miniature bull. we put the hood on her to calm her down, it only mildly worked.

we made more today than we did last friday. it was busy around lunchtime, and then it got busy again an hour before closing.

in the afternoon (when my aunt stopped by) business was slow enough for me to go fly my drone from the parking lot. i flew as far as mt.auburn hospital (where i spent the day on wednesday) and fresh pond plaza. i was trying to spot hidden flowering cherry trees in the neighborhood. my sister came back with esmei and we watched how she'd react to the drone. she heard it first before spotting it in the sky. i made the drone approach her and she started barking. esmei only barks for two reasons: when she hears another dog in distress or when she senses danger. the drone was something she'd never seen before, and the fact that it was making a loud noise told her it was dangerous.

i went to go help my sister hold esmei while she got her medicine. afterwards my sister brush esmei with a special dog grooming brush (a shedding blade), designed to remove tough undercoat. esmei seemed to like the brushing and calmed down after previously trying to bite us while we were giving her medication. my sister also let esmei out into the backyard, where she found her bone and tried to bury it in the mulch, using her nose as a shovel.

my sister was out having a late lunch early dinner with her friend, and esmei was home alone. i went back to her place around 5pm to turn on the webcam and to check up on esmei. she was wearing her cone which i took off, but after she started scratching at her face again with her hind leg, i put the cone back on.

my parents cooked up the swiss chard in the afternoon. i like the color, the crunch, and the taste. is it supposed to taste slightly sweet, or did my parents add something to it? anyway, i could eat chard every day if i had to. my mother even asked me earlier if i only bought one, hinting that next time i should get more.

gyudon (牛丼)
(3-6 serving)

12 oz. shaved steak
1 small onion, sliced thin
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 scallion, chopped

1 egg, poached
beni shoga (紅生姜)
rice (2 cups cooked)

dashi:
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp of hondashi

teriyaki sauce:
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp asian cooking wine
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp soy sauce


add hondashi, sugar, and liquid ingredients to water along with onions. simmer until onions soften before adding shaved steak (frozen is okay). cook until no longer raw. mix in ginger. serve with poached egg, rice, and beni shoga. garnish with scallions.

close to closing time i started making gyudon. that was basically one of the main reasons why i went to chinatown today, to get some mirin for the recipe. gyudon is dead simple to make, the hardest part is getting some shaved beef. it also requires an onion, and i guess finding some beni shoga is probably the most difficult item. while i was finishing making the gyudon, my mother fried 3 eggs. we split up the portion so each of us could have a third. my parents were eating after we closed, while i was still busy in the kitchen cleaning. my mother already finished by the time i was done. so i ended up deciding to take home the gyudon instead.

i ate immediately after getting home around 7pm. there was a package on my doorstep, my replacement waterpik hose assembly kit had arrived about a week early. the bulls-heat play-in tournament game was on. the winner would face off against the celtics sunday afternoon. the expectation was the bulls would win, after the heat jimmy butler to injury for the next few weeks. but never count out miami, they played amazingly, pushing their lead to as much as 29 points. heat won 91-112.

i replaced the broken hose assembly on my waterpik. the kit came with good instructions. it came with a new reed valve which it asked me to replace - nothing more than a small circle of fibrous fabric. after i assembled everything i ran the waterpik to test for leaks, it worked fine.

i look forward to sleeping tonight. it's going to rain tomorrow morning, so that's my excuse to not do anything tomorrow morning but to sleep in late. i just need to be at the cafe by 10:30am, which feels like a luxury.

i went to market basket this morning. i came here looking for mirin but couldn't find any. instead i got some random stuff, like kettle potato chips and ice cream. i didn't get to the cafe until 9:15am. my father cooked the rice today, 7 cups. my mother showed up a bit later from walking.

my parents made some kielbasa and pan-fried tofu for breakfast, which i had a little bit. my father also made crispy pork lard, which i had a lot, finishing the whole bowl. later in the afternoon my father made some hot sweet grass jelly soup with crushed peanuts.

right when we opened up we got an online delivery order. the rice hadn't even finished cooking yet. i accidentally hit the "ready" button which meant ubereats was searching for a driver. fortunately it took a while to find one, in which time we were finally able to assemble the order (a pair of bento boxes). at times it was busy - especially during the lunch period - but we didn't make all that much, only half of what we made yesterday, though we still beat last thursday's earnings by a few dollars.

my sister showed up with esmei in the early afternoon. esmei might seem like a small-medium dog, but she's deceptively heavy, weighing as much as a 5 gallon water cooler bottle. she's also surprisingly strong for her size, tugging and biting at her leash.

yesterday i made a batch of tea eggs (actually my mother took over as i went to the emergency room); today i made another batch, after yesterday's batch was placed in the crock pot when the first batch had been dwindled down to a single egg by day's end. i don't know how many tea eggs i've made, but i still want to up my tea egg game. for instance, i want to try using (cheap) loose leaves instead of tea bags, which is what i've been doing. i feel like loose tea leaves will give me a more authentic flavor.

i also made a batch of sesame peanut sauce, which we use for various noodle dishes.

it was gloomy all day and it started to rain by the afternoon. the morning forecast said it'd be brief, so i didn't bother bringing my rain gear. but by the afternoon it looked like the rain would last into the early part of the evening, right when i'd be going home. close to closing time, i noticed a brief window when it wasn't raining and decided to make a break for it. it was still lightly raining and my jacket and pants got pretty damp, but i managed to escape the medium to heavier rain.

my mother packed me another dinner box to go, a simple chicken stirfry. after a shower, i ate it around 7:30pm.

tomorrow morning i'm making a chinatown-haymarket run, haven't done that in months.

i went to the porter square star market to pick up some boneless chicken thighs, mandarin oranges, and red seedless grapes. i then showed up at the cafe by 9am. i cooked 7 cups of rice just when my parents arrived (my mother walked, my father drove).

that's when my chest started to hurt. sharp enough that i was bent over while still trying to work. my left arm and left leg also felt numb. was it exhaustion, or was it something else? my parents kept pushing me to go to the emergency room and have it checked out. i finally did leave around 10:30am, rode the bike to mt.auburn hospital, even though my father insisted on driving me to the point where he angrily said he was going to close the cafe.

but i made it to the hospital on my own, for better or worse. it then took me a while to find the emergency room, involved going to the other side of the hospital and taking the elevator one floor down to ground level. it didn't seem busy, just 2-3 people in the waiting area. i waited in line while waiting for my turn to check in. when i told the receptionist i was having chest pains, she quickly took my info as an attendant came to take me inside.

this wasn't my first emergency room visit to mt.auburn hospital. i'd been here before, back in july 2009, when i accidentally sliced my thumb in half vertically. in fact, everyone in my family has been here for one thing or another, as this is the closest hospital to where we live and work. my mother was admitted here for a few days back in june 2011 for observation after complaining of chest pains as well. my grand uncle spent some time here in 2015. my father came here for a hernia operation in june 2018 and also when he got 2nd-degree burns on his hand. and my sister had her colonoscopy here in october 2021.

first thing they did was to do an EKG. it took a few minutes to apply all the sticky pads, but the reading itself took just a second or two before i was finished. i then went back to the attendant where i gave him more details about my symptoms, my medical history, and any family history of heart disease/stroke. i then went to an exam room where i climbed onto a stretcher and another nurse attached me to the ECG machine which took readings of my pulse, my oxygen level, and my breathing rate. the nurse also installed an injection plug connector and drew some blood to run some tests (complete blood count, comprehensive metabolic panel, troponin). i then sat in the hospital bed and waited. the attending emergency room doctor came to see me, said she wanted to do a few more tests, including a CT scan and a possible MRI.

at 1pm a friendly attendant named joe came to wheel me into radiology for a CT scan. i've had CT scans before, back at MGH. they inject you with a dye and then you slide into a large donut-shaped device where they scan you with x-rays. this machine was fancy, with the fading purple and blue lights. they injected me with iohexol dye, fed it directly into my injection plug connector so i didn't have to get pricked again with a needle. the whole process was pretty quick. unfortunately, because i hadn't eaten anything all day, and the combination of sliding in and out while the CT machine was rotating perpendicularly quickly gave me motion sickness and i started to have a mild headache and felt nauseous. to make matters worse, once they injected me with the dye, i felt a tremendous warm throughout my body, including down to my groin where it felt like i peed myself.

another attendant wheeled me back to my original exam room. the doctor showed up again a short time later, said everything looked normal. she told me she'd be back again at 3pm to take another blood sample to a second troponin test. and that we were still waiting for radiology to tell us when an MRI would be available, but she told me i might have to wait a long time.

it was only 1:30pm at that point. i called my parents to let them know my status. i saw that the cafe got really busy was thankfully my sister was there helping out. i actually saw her this morning before i went to the hospital; she was taking esmei to the vet to get her bloody lip and eye checked out. later i found out that esmei has allergies (her thick coat apparently is good at trapping pollen).

so i waited. i had the exam room all to myself but the curtain wasn't fully closed so i could see out on the hallway. right outside was a hospital bed directly facing me. throughout the day the bed would have different patients, a total of 3 different people in the time i was there. i was also fascinated by the ECG monitor. i managed to prank the machine by holding my breath for 20 seconds. the monitor started flashing and making an alarm sound, said i was experiencing apnea. the weird thing was nobody came to investigate. i ended up climbing out of bed and hitting the buttons on the screen until i managed to shut off the alarm. at another point i managed to knock off one of the cables attached to one of the ECG pad on my body. i managed to reattach it, stopped the ECG from beeping. there was also a tv controlled by a tethered remote next to the bed. it got a few channels including USA (they were playing an episode of law & order: SVU) but i was in no mood for tv. i could also surf the web on my phone and use the free hospital wifi, but i was conservative with my usage, dimmed the screen, because i wasn't sure how long i'd be there and didn't want to run out of juice. with nothing to do, also fell asleep briefly, but stayed awake most of the time.

around 3:30pm a nurse (fallon) came in to draw some blood for the troponin test. i asked her how much longer i had to wait, she said she didn't know.

i held on for another 2 hours until i couldn't take it anymore. by then it was 5:30pm. not only was i hungry because i hadn't eaten all day, but i was also thirsty from not having anything to drink either. plus it'd been 4 hours since the last time a doctor saw me. i just wanted to leave. but that was easier said than done. the remote had a button to call the nurse. i used it 3 times, each time they said somebody would be right with me, before i waited another 15-30 minutes. seems like they'd abandoned me. i even walked out a few times, asking for help. they said they'd send someone to my exam room but that never happened.

by 6:30pm i'd taken off all the wires on my body and gotten dressed. the only thing i couldn't remove was the needle sticking out of my arm. when i finally snagged a nurse, she asked me if i was insisting on leaving despite doctor's orders. she said she'd find the doctor. i wait almost another half hour before a doctor finally showed up. it wasn't the same doctor from earlier, but i didn't care at that point. he understood my predicament, said ideally we'd do an MRI scan, but even he didn't know when one would be available (would i have to stay overnight, unfed?). he said it might've been a migraine, which can sometimes do weird things like numb one side of the body. regardless, he okayed my departure. the nurse came back to remove the injection plug and gave me my paperwork. i apologized to her for being snappy earlier, she understood, knew i was just hangry.

i was finally out of the hospital by 7pm. i called my parents, who had insisted on coming to visit me at the hospital. i told them i was going home. they said they'd already prepared dinner for me, and that i had to come by the cafe to pick it up. it was getting dark and i didn't have my bike lights, but i went to the cafe anyway as it was along the way. i grabbed the bento box and returned home, finally getting back by 7:30pm.

i ate immediately, tasted like the best thing in the world after having spent the entire day without any food.

so after having spent the entire day in the emergency room, i still don't know what i was suffering from. the mt.auburn hospital doctor told me to talk with my primary care physician and possibly scheduling an MRI to take a more detailed look at the blood vessels going to my brain to rule out the possibility of a mini-stroke. i personally think it's exhaustion from working 10 weeks straight with any rest. today turned out to be super busy at the cafe, the second busiest day this year, and i'd missed all the excitement. it was actually the first time in 10 weeks where i wasn't working, but i wouldn't count it as a day off since i spent it in emergency room hell confined to a hospital bed in an exam room surrounded by sick and injured people.

i went to star market to get some seltzer and oranges before leaving for work. i arrived before my parents, cooked 7 cups of rice.

today was a slow day, we barely made half of what we made last tuesday. reason? it's spring break for public schools. so it looks be to slow the rest of the week.

i got a chance to try out the fermented hot sauce i made last night with some leftover sauerkraut stew from last night. the color is pretty amazing - a vibrant red. however as far as hot sauces are concerned, it's actually not that good. it's spicy (from the chili peppers) and vinegary (from the fermentation), but doesn't have any additional complexity. it very similar to sambal oelek - indonesia hot sauce. i did some online research on chinese hot sauces and looks like it's usually made from frying. i've never made hot sauce like that before but i'm going to for next time.

my father went to go see his doctor in cambridge in the late afternoon. it was just a pre-check before his hernia operation next month, but he used it as an opportunity to ask his primary care doctor about a whole slew of other medical issues, including his persistent cough which he still has since coming back from taiwan weeks ago. his doctor prescribed some benzonatate. my sister had a few pills which she gave me father, but now he has his own supply.

i went to see go esmei around 5pm after my sister gave me the door codes to her back doors. esmei was wearing a canine onesie to prevent her from licking or chewing her stitchings. she wasn't particularly excited to see me. she slowly came out of her playpen and made a beeline to the backyard. i let her outside to get some sun and noticed she had a bloody abrasion on the right corner of her mouth. my sister returned home and said it was because esmei keeps scratching that area. esmei also had som abrasion around her right eye. my sister took a photo to send the vet.

when i got home i spent some time snacking while watching some youtube videos. i didn't have dinner until after 8pm, reheated some leftover sauerkraut stew my mother gave me mixed with leftover rice.

insta360 came out with a new 360 camera today, the X4. it improves on the X3 in every way: 8K videos, 4K slow motion, larger battery, slightly bigger touchscreen. it's also $100 for the base model. but the coolest thing it has is removable lens guards. finally after 4 generations they figured out a way to protect the most fragile dual bulging lenses! i just wonder if there's glare when the lens guard is applied; that's the reason why i decided not to put lens guards on my X3. i like the specs, but i'm already struggling with the enormous file sizes shooting at 5.7K, i don't know how i'd deal with 8K (though there's an option to still shoot at 5.7K with a higher fps). do i regret getting the X3? a little bit. but with tech, you can expect a new version of your gadget every 1-2 years. there's always something better and newer and cooler! in the meantime, there's still a lot about the X3 i haven't played with yet.

i was still asleep when my mother called me this morning at 9am. she found new flights from quebec city to boston via toronto. i got up to check on the computer. i ended up booking 4 tickets - my mother, my father, my 2nd aunt, and my taiwanese aunt. air canada also plays that game where they nickle and dime the passengers. everything costs money, from baggage, to seat selection, even what time you board the plane.

i was going to go watch the boston marathon today. i didn't go last year because of bad weather. the last time i went was 2022. i used the blog entry for that date as a guide. that time i left by 11am, so that's what i was shooting for. in terms of equipment, i brought my 50-250mm lens and my wide angle lens. i also brought the insta360 X3 camera and the gopro. large bags are discouraged but i couldn't carry everything in my small mountainsmith lumbar pack so i had to upgrade to a messenger bag. temperature was in the 60's so i wore just a pair of navy chinos and a white polo shirt. i opted to take the fuji (like last time), which would get me there a little faster.

i ended up leaving by 10:40am. i headed to my usual spot, the 40km mark, right before kenmore square, at the intersection of boston beacon street and maitland street. i followed the charles river and crossed into boston via the BU bridge. it took a little over 20 minutes to get there. i had my gopro set to timewarp capture.

by the time i arrived the wheelchair division was just passing through. nice warm weather like today is actually bad for runners because it causes them to overheat. so i was expecting them to show up later than sooner. the first men runners didn't appear until about 11:30am. the first women runners about 12pm. i was trying something new today. normally i used in aperture priority mode set to f/8, for maximum clarity. but just recently i picked up a tip from an online sports photographer that he always shoots in shutter priority, with the shutter speed no less than 1/1600th of second. so that's what i've been doing recently, anything that moves, or shooting from inside a moving car. it causes my aperture to change, but it's worth it for sharp (non-blurry) photos.

marathons are hard to photograph. runners go by so quickly, and there are so many, it's hard to pick out a good subject. plus i showed up early to see the frontrunners, but there's a long time gap between them and the rest of the normal runners to show up. about 30k runners participate in the boston marathon. by the time i left, i only saw runners from the 10k field, would've had to wait another 30-60 minutes before seeing the 20k runners. i tried slowly my shutter speed so i could get a blur of runners. that didn't quite work because it was so bright out, the photos became overexposed. as i was about to leave my spot, i decided to use my 360 camera. i extended it on the 3ft pole and mounted it to the top of the metal barricade. it looked kind of weird, like i had an antenna.

there's something really graceful and beautiful about a runner's body. i especially like to capture them in profile, where you can see all their muscles at work. it's amazing how much endurance these marathon runners have. they've already ran 25 miles and are still running fast enough that it looks like they're sprinting. it's inspirational, makes me want to go running this week.

i finally left by spot around 1:30pm. i then went southwest down beacon street, towards the direction of coolidge corner in brookline. i mounted the 360 camera on the pole attached to my handlebar. i probably looked weird riding around with a pole sticking out of my bike. i rode gingerly, as the extension pole had a tendency to wobble, and i didn't want it falling over along with the camera.

i stopped a few times to get photos, until i reached coolidge corner. by then it was 2pm. i followed harvard avenue towards brighton-allston, all the way through harvard square to get home. it took about 20 minutes.

i gathered up my things and left for belmont by 2:30pm. my parents had already gone on a waltham supply run, hitting both costco and market basket. my father also went to the post office and mailed off their tax returns. my mother reheated some leftover noodles my father didn't finish for lunch.

i ended up taking about 1200 photos from the marathon. i didn't get many good shots, maybe a handful at most, a rather unsatisfying and disappointing outing. i also reviewed some of the 360 footage, it's going to take some time to edit them so they're presentable. 360 videos feel a lot like 3D photos, in that they're cool but not very easy to view.

i also got a tan from being out in the sun all day. it's an uneven tan, the top of my left forearm since that was the part of my body that was facing the sun, the left side of my nose. my dream is to one day have an even tan.

one of things i had to do today was water the grow room plants. i ended up moving all the jasmine plants outside so they can get some real sun. later i'd move them all into the sunroom, so they can be acclimated to the outdoor weather and eventually moved outside. without the jasmines in the grow room i was able to turn off one of the spiderfarmer led grow lights. i removed the other spiderfarmer light and put it underneath the gardenia. currently it still hasn't developed any flower buds yet.

too bad i was at the marathon today, because the nice weather (temperature actually hit the 70's) would've made for a great gardening day. i still got some outdoor gardening done though. those peas i planted back in march? they finally sprouted, 3 weeks later. it's the first full season where the raised beds are protected by a cage, so we made get a good crop of peas this spring. i also planted the swiss chard seeds i got on saturday. the seed packet only came with two seeds! i planted them in RB0, in a pile of cambridge compost. the last thing i did was fill up the birdfeeder. i was afraid all the sunflower shells underneath the feeder was going to kill the grass. it actually had the opposite effect. with so much bird activity around the feeder, the accumulate of bird poop has actually fertilized that patch of grass so it's greener and thicker than the surrounding lawn. next winter more birdfeeders!

for dinner my father made a sauerkraut stew, fill of enoki mushrooms, meatballs, and tofu. he also added some shrimps but i didn't eat any.

i returned home by 7pm. temperature was still in the 60's but with the setting sun it was starting to become cooler. thankfully i brought a pullover thinking it might get cold. it was warm inside the house though, and warm enough that the furnace never kicked in the entire night.

my oven light gasket arrived today. it came in a box when they could've just sent me the gasket in an envelope. unfortunately the gasket was a little small, and not as thick as the original gasket. i ended up forcing the gasket (which is really just a thin fiberglass ring) onto the glass and then screwing everything into place. i won't know if it holds or not until the next time i use the oven. i reassembled the oven, taping the schematic diagram back onto the bottom of the oven tray.

i finally got around to making my fermented hot sauce. i chopped up some hot anaheim peppers and garlic and left them to ferment in a fido jar for over 2 weeks. tonight i emptied the jar into a strainer and dumped all the fermented peppers and garlic into my small ninja food processor. i then blended everything into a sauce. when i process non-fermented peppers they remain chunky. however when i process fermented peppers, they get blended into a smoother sauce. the final result was a little watery though, and has a strong sour taste because of the fermentation. i'll bring it to the cafe tomorrow. periodically customers ask for hot sauce, which presents me with an opportunity to experiment with homemade hot sauces.

the hose on my waterpik broken tonight, developed a crack where the water would spray out. i went online in search of replacement parts and discovered a market of replacement hose/handle assembly. apparently they break so often, they're designed to be easily replaced. waterpik sells official replacement hose/handle assemblies, but it's $16 plus $6 shipping. there are various knockoffs on amazon, but many have bad reviews. i ended up going with the official waterpik replacement. i bought two to qualify for free shipping, and found a 20% off coupon for a final cost of $27.

tonight i'm finishing the last episode of fallout on amazon prime. i've been watching it in short segments, not because they're bad, but because each episode is so good, i don't want it to ever end. only 8 episodes total this season! although i read somewhere a second season has already been greenlighted.