my t-fal cookware set arrived in the late morning. i saw the fedex van but didn't see any package on my doorstep. about an hour later i got notification that my package was delivered. i ended up having to go out and look for my package, which was delivered to my neighbors across the street. i went to grab the box, which probably looked pretty suspicious, like i was stealing a package.
i opened the large box and took out a single pot - the 5qt dutch oven - just to get a sense of the quality. i was still on the fence regarding either to keep or return it. the pot was lighter compared to my existing 5qt, but the one that i currently have is anodized, so it's naturally heavier. as for material thickness, i couldn't tell the difference, they looked similar. although the pot itself was light, the glass lid was heavier and felt like it was better quality. the metal inner rim of the lid was bent (shipping damage), but i was able to bent it mostly back, and it still fit over the pot without any problems.
after finishing the last of my chicken sausage oatmeal for lunch, i set out by 1:30pm to run errands. first stop was the porter square target to pick up some dove nourishing shampoo and conditioner for thickening thinning hair (lavender and rosemary scented). i ordered it last night for pick up today. i parked in the porter square mall parking lot, which i haven't been for close to 2 decades. it was larger than i remembered, there were plenty of parking so basically the only businesses there are anna's tacqueria, citizens bank, an eyewear shop, and the target. i prefer the larger targets (somerville, watertown): the porter square target is many times smaller, and their in-store prices are more expensive than their online prices.
next i went to the mass ave speedway to fuel up my motorcycle. december is usually when i put away the bike. how many more days can i ride before the first snow? of course this year's all screwed up because we already had our first snowstorm back in october. self-service gas station pumps are ripe with diseases, and i try to handle it only with gloves hands, but for some reason i still managed to grab the pump with my bare hand.
i went to the cafe to fix my mother's samsung S9+ phone. it bothered me to no end that her screen protector was causing touchscreen issues. i almost bought a new protector last night, but decided to hold off until i could try something first. that something was to turn on the touch sensitivity switch in the advance settings. it even said that this was useful for using with screen protector. as soon as i did that, sensitivity was back to normal, buttons responsive again.
i also added a 128GB memory card to the samsung phone. when i checked the storage though, it said internal memory was 128GB on top of the additional 128GB of external memory. i could've sworn i ordered the 64GB version of the S9+, not the 128GB. later i checked and sure enough, i was supposed to get the 64GB s9+, but somehow they made a mistake and gave me the 128GB version instead. regardless, i took out the memory card, 128GB is more than enough storage for the time being.
i tweaked some phone settings. even though i turned off sound notifications, line for some reason was still beeping every time my mother received a new update. i ended up going directly into the line app and turning off sound alerts. i also downloaded spotify and logged my mother into her account; it's the one she uses when she goes out for her walks, to listen to her chinese songs. i also paired the wireless earbud to the phone.
having never had a samsung phone before, i just wanted to play with it. there are so many settings to explore, i wish i'd gotten a samsung phone myself. i'll get the chance this weekend though. that's when i'll also sign my mother up for a samsung account, activate contactless payment, and install the nova launcher so we can customize the home screen.
if i didn't ask, my sister would've never known: i asked her if she received the amazon gift card i sent her for her birthday (today). she said no, i told her i sent it last night around midnight. after she did some searching she finally found it.
i left by 3pm, to market basket, with an hour left of daylight. the clouds today were also dramatic, would've been nice for some drone flying, but unfortunately i didn't have the time. i thought market basket would be empty in the late afternoon, but it was the usual crowdedness. since i only had my motorcycle saddlebags to carry back the groceries, i couldn't get too much. plus, one of the saddlebags was still full of empty containers i forgot to drop off at the cafe. they had the mi nina tortilla chips my aunt dropped off last week, i bought a bag. they also restocked their inca kola, got a bottle as well. i returned home by 3:40pm.
i started watching devs, the 8-part alex garland series on FX. difficult to summarize the plot, basically about a mysterious tech company, and a woman who's trying to find out what happened to her disappeared boyfriend after joining the ultra-secretive "devs" division of said company.
later in the evening i took out the rest of the pots, decided i was going to keep them after all. i think the problem i'm having is because i bought them so cheaply (the whole set for just $50), they feel cheap to me, even if they're not. i think if i paid $200 for the whole set, i might be feeling differently. the bottomline is i need to replace some of my pots immediately because they're all scratched up (and i'm tired of eating teflon). i could try piecing together my replacement cookware, but that'd take time and cost more. since i already have this t-fal set, might as well use them now.
this buys me some time as i can slowly piece together my dream team cookware set: 1qt sauce pan (best size for instant noodles), 2qt sauce pan (for reheating leftovers), 5qt dutch oven (for soups), 6qt wok-style chef pan (the workhorse), 9.5" frying pan (that uses the same lid as the 5qt dutch oven), and a smaller sized frying pan that uses the 2qt lid. the lids have to be glass so i can see inside, and venting would be nice but not required. as for material, i'm partially to the stoneware that's all the rage these days with asian cooks (stoneware is the new ceramic).
the t-fal cookware set included a tiny egg pan, which almost seems like a novelty item because it's designed to cook a single egg (it's called the "one egg wonder"). i think the 8" frying pan would be better for maling eggs. the lid from the 5qt dutch oven doesn't fully fit on the 9.5" t-fal frying pan; that's because the frying pan is too sloped on the sides, which means a smaller cook volume. i'll probably continue to use my old 9.5" ceramic frying pan. the 5qt "jumbo cooker" has a larger radius but it's not as tall as my 6qt chef pan. because it's so wide, it takes up two cooktops. i think i'll still continue to use my 6qt chef pan, until i can find something better. there's also a pizza pan. i already have a pizza pan, but this one is peppered with little holes, i guess all the better to crisp up the crusts, i'm not familiar with this style of pan. it also came with plastic kitchen tools, but i already have wooden ones so i won't use these. likewise the set of measuring spoons, i have my own. there's a 10.25" square griddle, not sure i'd ever use that as well, unless i like to get oil splatter all over the stove. finally, a 12.5 x 9" baking tray. so out of all these things these are the ones i'll actually use: 5qt dutch oven, 2qt saucepan, 1qt sauce pan, 5qt jumbo cooker (when i'm not using my 6qt chef pan), 8" frying pan, and pizza pan.
i'm still not sure the retail price for the 22-piece t-fal cookware set. when i revisit the walmart listing for the item, the price is still $50 though out of stock. on amazon.com the cost of the 5qt jumbo cooker with lid alone is $30. so i'm getting all 22-pieces for only $50. it seems wasteful that there are some items i will never use. however, when i look for cookware set with less items, they're actually more expensive, nothing beats the black friday $50 price i scored.
for dinner i made a meatball sub. i think it's going to be meatball subs for the rest of the week, just so i can use up my sub bread. next week i've decided i'm making risotto, already got my all ingredients ready.
i woke up this morning at a more sensible hour of 10am after having gone to bed last night at 3am. the only thing i had to do today was wait for my mother's samsung S9+ phone to arrive and set it up for her. today was the first day of december and the weather outside was in the lower 60's.
even though the legendary limited raids event was already over, this morning i spotted several local raids featuring azelfs. i contacted frances, who rounded up her husband as well as a friend so the 4 of us could battle the azelf. i actually tried twice before but found myself facing the azelf on both occasions when players dropped out in the final seconds. that's when frances told me that if you leave a raid before the battle begins, it doesn't use up your raid pass. i didn't think that was the case but good to know, i've been waiting raid passes all this time, battling legendary pokemons solo. it was fun battling with level 40 players, and winning was just a matter of formality. best part is i managed to capture the azelf afterwards.
i got a notice from the mass department of unemployment, saying i'm not eligible for unemployment because i didn't earn sufficient wages in my base period. the letter was a little confusing, but they made an error in my total gross pay and i'm going to correct it with the wage correction sheet, though i'm not sure if that'll make any difference, though it won't hurt to try.
amazon notified me by 11am that the package was delivered. it could've arrived earlier, but for some reason the phone was rerouted from the bronx to tennessee then back up to boston, fedex shipping logic apparently. i ate lunch before i went to retrieve the package, so chicken sausage oatmeal cooked with my smokeless foreman grill. speaking of which, i decided to toss out my old foreman - the one with the non-stick coating fall off - now that i have a new one. it's served me well, nearly 2 decades. as sentimental as i want to be, there's no room in my house for an old foreman grill i'm never going to use again. i did however save the plastic tray and scraper spatula.
i went to belmont around 1:15pm. i thought about bringing my drone, maybe do some backyard flying to take photos of the dramatic clouds, but didn't want to use up my time. in hindsight i should've brought it because the clouds were the most dramatic i've seen it in a while, especially after all that storm clouds started to clear out.
while i was at my parents' house, i was a bit of backup cleaning. i found a dead squirrel and buried out. collected some buckets that'd been blown around. righted the 50W solar panel. put away the plywood launching pad. and in the kitchen there was a dead mouse in the trap which i put in a plastic bag and tossed out into the garbage. only then did i grab the new phone and headed to the cafe.
as this was a renewed phone, there were faint traces of prior usage. there was a very small scratch on the screen, almost imperceptible except i saw it. the phone seemed to have been opened before because there was some nick marks around the edges, nothing too bad, and nothing that can't be hidden with a phone case. i doubt this renewed phone is waterproof.
however, the thing that could've been a deal breaker was a tiny crease in the center of the screen. normally you wouldn't see it, but if you tilt it in the light you'd catch it, and if your moved your finger over the screen you can feel it. when i put the glass screen protector over it though, you can't see it anymore.
nevertheless, screen protector presented a new problem. glass protectors on these curved phones rely on attaching the cover to the edges of the screen instead of the whole screen. the majority of the screen is just a very thin layer of air. that small pocket messes with the phone's ability to sense screen touches. this is most noticeable on the sides of the screen, not so much in the middle, though it can happen as well.
i also couldn't figure out how to turn on the phone. i honestly thought maybe it was defective, which would give me a legitimate excuse to get a replacement, despite the hassle of shipping it back and waiting for another one. when i finally turned on the phone though, it was at 87% battery. the problem i later discovered was i was pressing the samsung bixby button thinking it was the power button. the power button on the S9+ is on the right side, and on the left are the volumes and the bixby button.
once the screen protector and cover where in place, i took the motorcycle to the harvard square verizon office to switch the sim card from the iphone 5s to the samsung S9+. i had to circle the square twice looking for parking. the thought did enter my mind, that i should've tried swapping out the sim card on my own first, because chances are it could be the same size. when i arrived at the store, that's exactly what the guy there told me. i opened up the phones and sure enough, the sim card was the same size, could saved me a trip! i told him when i did it with my pixel phone i did have to replace the sim card, and he confirmed that google phones use a different size. when i put the sim card into the samsung, it rebooted and showed verizon as the carrier along with signal bars.
i got back to the cafe by 3:40pm. my godmother and my 2nd aunt were there for their little knitting circle. my godmother has a samsung phone as well, and when she took hers out, we realized it was a S9+ a well since the back of the phones were an exact match. i set up some additional accounts, including migrating over my mother's line account (after making a backup first on the oneplus one) and manually adding some e-mails.
i returned home by 4:30pm, the sun already set. my godmother gave me a container of watermelon seeds to take back. i also planned on going to market basket today but didn't get around to it. for dinner i boiled a frozen package of cheese raviolis along with half a jar of pasta sauce.
i called my mother in the evening asking how she was liking her new phone. she said the screen protector is definitely messing with the touch sensitivity and wanted to get rid of it. i'll go check it out tomorrow, maybe there's something i can do with the phone settings to boost the touch sensitivity, i could also try repositioning the protector, maybe it's not aligned correctly, causing the air gap.
my sister's birthday's tomorrow, i was trying to find something to get her, but ended up just sending her a $200 amazon gift card.
because of the rain today, i opted not to go to belmont but stay home instead. i went to bed last night at 3am but didn't wake up until almost noontime as i had nothing going on today and the dreary grey weather was conducive to staying in bed. i'd also not been getting some good night sleep (completely my fault for sleeping so late), so this was a day to recharge.
i finished the last of my turkey rollups for lunch. i still had some turkey left which i used up later in the day for dinner. i didn't really do anything constructive other than submit the online form for the victualer/entertainment license for the cafe. i also resubmitted my unemployment benefit application, it's been more than a month since i last submitted but i haven't heard back. i checked the website and resubmitted the form, hopefully it'll go through this time. i also continued to retroactively fill in photos for past blog entries. i finished october, just need to do thanksgiving and i'll have november done as well. that still leaves june through september (4 months).
i few the DJI mini 2 drone inside my house today. i thought i could shoot some cool interior footage of the drone flying through the various rooms. in practice that would not be the case. because i was indoors it wouldn't allow me to fly initially, but i disabled the warning. not sure if it was because it didn't have the gps satellites to help it stay stationary, but once the drone was up in the air, it had a tendency to drift a little bit. there was enough drifting that i was afraid to fly it through the doorway for fear of hitting the doorframe so i meant inched my way through the house. i know they have propeller guards for the mini 2, it'd be worth getting, but flying indoors in confined spaces is just too risky. second, oh the downdraft from the drone! it created such vortices that dust buns on the ground were being lifted up in the air. it was so bad that after i finished flying i went through the house and vacuumed since it revealed how dusty my place was.
i made some ramen for dinner. instead of an egg, i dumped in all the thanksgiving leftovers: turkey meat, pork ears, tripe, pickled mustard greens. it was actually pretty good, like a professionally-made bowl of instant noodles. i'm just glad i was able to finish all the leftovers without it going to waste.
later in the evening - in the pouring rain - i went outside to leave a pokemon at a nearby gym. i had on my mask this time, but i totally forgot that massachusetts has a curfew after 10pm, that's why there were nobody else out on the streets (the bad weather also had something to do with it), other than a few city road crew trucks driving around look for wind damage i guess. that also reminds me that earlier today frances held a 3rd raid for a mesprit. this time around - after winning the raid - i finally managed to catch the mesprit. she asked if i'd seen any azelf - a legendary pokemon found only in north america - but i hadn't.
i ate some leftover turkey rollups at home for lunch before taking the motorcycle to belmont. this time of year, the sun is so low on the horizon, it makes for dramatic lighting, perfect weather (clear blue sky) for some drone flying. my mother went out for a walk just as my father and i were in the backyard playing with the drone. we tried to find my mother out on the streets but she was too elusive, even after we called her to figure out just exactly where she was. but it was the first we left the confines of the airspace directly above the house and ventured out a bit farther.
for the first flight, we flew 1200 ft to the west (to the belmont reservoir), followed by 1200 ft to the east (to the playground). i lifted off manually by holding the two joysticks down and inwards, we activated the motors. i then used the left joystick to bring the drone up in the air. i had no problems with the connection but there were a few times when the signal decreased by a single bar before going back up again. the angle of the sun was such that it cast long shadows of the people in the playground. i even saw a person flying a kite, even though we were easily 300ft above the kite.
i'd used this battery yesterday when i made a short indoor flight, so the capacity wasn't at full. we brought it back to switch out the battery to one that was fully charged. i used the return to home (RTH) function for the very first time, following it on the map until we saw it descending into the backyard. i stopped it before it could land, and had it land manually onto my hand by holding the left joystick all the way down while putting my hand underneath.
for the second flight, we flew as far as 2330 ft, to do a loop around the tall 700 huron avenue building. signal started to get weaker and at one point i lost signal entirely. it's a tough place to flying around because once the drone is on the opposite side of the building, the building will block the signal. but father suggested i turn around so i was actually facing the drone and that improved things and i regained the signal after about a second of loss. i thought maybe the drone would try to return home automatically but it just held its place in the air until i could reconnect. that building is about 250 ft tall, which is including the elevation from being built on a hill. at 400 ft i had more than enough clearance, but my palms did sweat a little bit, afraid i'd lose the drone in just the 2nd day of flying. we used RTH to bring it back home, i stopped it midair so i could land it manually on my hand again.
as i had a third fully charged battery, i decided to put that in the drone and just play around with flying it around the backyard. my mother returned home by that point, we were able to demonstrate the drone to her, but she didn't seem very impressed. i tried to use one of the quickshots (dronie) but it was flying backwards and almost hit the maple tree before i was able to stop it in time. also at one point when i was trying to example the tips of some pine trees, the DJI fly app crashed. the drone just sort of hung out in the air until i could regain connection and bring it back. for this landing, i tried landing it on the makeshift square plywood launch pad. i thought i had it centered but it ended up landing it a little on the side, no harm no foul. the experience reminded me of those UFO catcher machines.
late fall is a weird time to fly a drone, as the scenery is pretty stark. you get that nice low angle light, but there's not much to see. the bare trees are like skeletons, leaving the landscape a desolate look. i suppose it's easier to see things that would normally be covered by leaves. come winter, after a snowfall, would be a great time to fly, to survey the snow-covered vista. and springtime, with the flowering trees, would also be a pretty time. and then there's fall, with the new england foliage, that must also make for nice flying.
i didn't do much else in belmont. we brought outside the small potted jasmine and succulent so my father could it a thorough spray with the neem oil after he noticed they still had white fuzzy mealybugs. only spraying outside can you avoid making a mess.
another mouse visited the electronic mousetrap. it was flashing red, which meant it caught something. i took it outside to dump but what i saw surprised me: the compartment was empty! not only that, all the peanut butter was gone. so the trap didn't even at all. we ended up changing the batteries and resetting the trap with fresh peanut butter. we'll definitely catch a mouse tonight.
there was also football games on sunday; i caught the end of the patriots-cardinals game. new england won, but victories seem so hard to come by, like we only won because the other team made more turnovers than we did. once again, cam newton through an interception on the final drive that would've given the patriots a safe lead. instead, arizona drove the ball to within field goal range but missed the kick, allowing new england to advance and win by a kickoff.
after some turkey broth pho noodles for dinner, i returned home. after using the bathroom, i went back outside to put the rain cover over my motorcycle before taking a shower. i watched the diego maradona documentary i recorded off of HBO, had to finish it before i'd lose free HBO for the weekend. maradona died of a heart attack at age 60 on wednesday.
amazon surprised me this morning when it notified me that my dji mini 2 drove had already been delivered at my parents' place, when it wasn't scheduled to arrive until tomorrow sunday. i wasn't planning on going to belmont today because my parents were at the cafe for a small business saturday event, but now i had to go.
i didn't leave until nearly 1:30pm, even though the package had been delivered by 10am. for one thing, i didn't wake up until 11am, after having gone to bed late again. my father also called me, i thought it was about my package, but he asked for me help in renewing my sister's godmother's expired driver license. i knew you could do it online, but my sister said something about not having the proper documentations, and i thought that was only for a higher security realID license.
so i went to the rmv website and did it online. i was nearly finished when it asked me for proof of lawful presence. they never asked this before, and i did some research and found out it was a new law enacted in 2018. my sister's godmother did have her green card but it expired when she was in taiwan back in august and she hadn't renewed it since. when i tried to enter her info, it wouldn't allow me to input an expired date. so she needs to renew her permanent resident id first before she can renew her driver license.
when i arrived in belmont my father was there too after hearing that the drone had arrived. i got the dji mini 2 combo which includes 2 spare batteries, a charging station, and additional propellers. everything was neatly packed inside of a bag inside the box. i wanted to try out the drone right away but all the batteries were nearly discharged. instead of waiting though, i decided to risk it, figured i'd fly it for a few minutes to test it out.
i put my phone in the controller and sync'ed the drone. the controller is the biggest and heaviest piece of equipment, bigger and heavier than the drone or the charging hub. the dji fly app told me i had 48 hours to sign up for the dji care refresh 1-year insurance policy (2 drone replacements in case of accidents). at $49 both my father and i agreed it was worth it for the peace of mind so i paid for it before flying. once the drone was sync'ed up with the app, the phone screen started to show what the drone camera was seeing. earlier i'd also put in the new 256GB samsung EVO select, rated at 100MB/s read and 90MB/s write.
as for the dji mini 2 drone, it seemed kind of flimsy, but it's designed to be light. the propellers sort of just flapped around loosely like they might come off and the gimbal felt springy, like it was loose as well. it took me a while to figure out how exactly to turn on the drone. at first i thought maybe there wasn't enough juice in the battery, but the trick is you press the on button one, then hold it down a second time a little longer. the drone was small enough that i did want to launch it from the lawn, because the propellers would hit the grass. instead i found a large square piece of plywood in the backyard and used it as a launching pad.
so this was how rushed i was to fly the drone: i didn't even any idea how to launch it. i had to quickly watch a quick dji video on youtube (accessible through the fly app) to learn that there's an auto takeoff button on the left side of the fly app screen. i hit that, which brought up another larger button in the middle of the screen that i was supposed to press for several seconds before the drone would launch. the propellers started spinning, and the drone popped up in the air 1.2 meters high.
i hit the record button so it could capture my very first drone flight. the first thing i noticed was how loud it was. like you could never be able to sneak up the drone behind someone because they'd hear it coming. it sounded like a swarm of angry bees. second, the propellers spun with enough force that it created a sizable downdraft that we could feel. like if it flew over you, not only would you hear it buzzing, but you would also feel the air currents. i moved it around the backyard just to get a feel for the navigation. the controls were easy to figure out: left joystick control height and spin, right joystick moved the drone. the thing i didn't know how to do was move the gimbal, so the camera was always pointing forward. after a few minutes of use, it started giving me a warning that battery level was low and to land the drone. we didn't want to risk having it fall out of the sky, so i brought the drone down.
so here's another funny thing: just like how i didn't know how to launch the drone, i also didn't know how to land it. there's auto landing button (the same one that auto launched it), but i did what i saw many mini drone flyers do online on youtube: i tried to grab it. the mini 2 doesn't like to be touched, and the ground sensor immediately moved the drone upwards whenever i got close to it. when i did grab on to the drone, it was fighting me, trying to get free, and i had to release it. the trick is to grab it fast and then turn it upside down. once i did that, the drone stopped the motors (but was still on).
we went back inside to charge up the drone. the spare batteries had been charging since we first opened the box. the cool thing about the drone is you can charge the battery directly through the usb-c port, no need to take it out of the compartment. when i checked the album, i was confused why there was no videos, just a few photos. that's when i discovered i'd set the drone to camera mode, not video mode. all that flying was for naught.
i emptied the electric mousetrap, which managed to catch a small mouse. the mouse was so small i thought it was empty and was surprised when i found something inside. my mother noticed yesterday that a package of noodles had been chewed, so i checked the mousetrap and put in some fresh peanut butter. less than 24 hours we caught a mouse, but i have a feeling there's more because i saw some additional mouse droppings.
i didn't eat lunch until 2:30pm, some leftover thanksgiving turkey. i rewatched the "how to fly" video and learned a few more things. like how the gimbal control is a dial on the left hand corner of the controller, behind the phone. i discovered that the app keeps a log of the number of flights, distances, and hours. it can also payback the flight path and history overlaid on top of a map.
my father was ready to go back to the cafe, but i told him i wanted to try flying the drone again. one of the spare batteries in the charging hub was already charged to 75-80%, plenty of juice to do a test flight.
so after replacing the battery, we went back outside. with more juice i was more ambitious with the flying. i pushed it into the sky in increments of 100ft. the units arrived in metric, i quickly went into the settings to change it to imperial (feet) so i had a better sense of how high i was flying. at 100ft we could still hear the drone, likewise at 200ft but slightly less. at 300ft it was silent, but also hard to pick out of the sky. maybe because i was flying the drone i always had an idea where it was, but my father had a hard time locating it. at 400ft it was just a dot in the sky. i moved it around a bit (circling around the house), but my father was afraid we'd lose the drone because we could hardly see it.
i had the drone pointing down for the whole time. when i moved the gimbal up so the camera was now looking at the horizon, that was a wow moment. for the first time we could see the boston skyline. i was tempted test the distance of the drone, but decided to familiarize myself with the controls first before doing something that risky. the problem is belmont and boston as a whole is very flat. to actually be able to see my drone, i would have to get to someplace high, and there aren't many high places around here. so one question i have is will drone be able to still fly if i can't keep it in my line of sight? technically you're always suppose to only fly the drone as long as you can see far, but with a range of 10km, i wonder how far i can fly it blind? and once it does loose the signal/connection, how dependable is the auto return function?
one of the most amazing thing about the mini 2 is how stable the footage is. the gimbal is black magic, it's like putting a stationary tripod in the sky. flying up and down is very smooth, likewise with horizontal trucking. however, when i pan the drone, it moves much too fast such that the video becomes a blur, even when i have it set to the lowest cine speed. maybe this has something to do with the framerate. at 4K the maximum framerate is 30fps, while at 1080p it can do 60fps. but i recorded at 4K, figured i wanted the clarity since it's not everyday i get to fly in the sky.
i brought back the zone and lowered it down into our backyard. i let my father man the controllers and take the drone for a spin. he was hesitant at first before he finally gave it a try, mostly some short maneuvers in the backyard, mostly at eye level. we landed it again by hand catching.
we watched the video footage through the fly app. i'm not quite sure how it's doing it, because i'm pretty sure i didn't download the video. it had to be streaming directly from the drone itself, was all so seamless, i'm not sure how that's even possible. one thing i noticed is the footage has no audio. even if they did put a microphone on the drone, the only sound it'd capture would be the buzzing of the propellers. most drone footage i've seen, it's either non-stop narration, or they're piping some background music. i wanted to get the videos onto my computer but i couldn't figure out how. the drone has the ability to create a wifi hotspot for data transfer, but without reading the instructions first, i didn't know how that was done. i even looked it up online, until somebody gave the easiest solution: just take out the memory card. so that's what i did. having never worked with 4K videos before, i was a little surprised by the size: for 5:27 of footage, the video file is 4.09GB. 11 minutes of footage comes out to nearly 10GB. i'm glad i splurged and paid the extra to get a big (256GB) memory card. at this rate, i may need to buy a dedicated external hard drive just to store all this 4K footage.
my father had left for the cafe by then. i elected to stay in belmont and wait for my parents to come back for dinner. during that time i familiarized myself with more of the control features. by that point the batteries were fully charged. as it as getting close to sunset, i decided to go out and do another flight.
this time around i didn't shoot continuous footage, only when i needed to. i also took more photos than videos. it started to get a little cloudy and the exposure had some problems: if i exposed the sky and clouds correctly, the landscape would be dark; if i exposed the landscape correctly, the sky would be overblown. it wasn't ideal shooting conditions. i basically just pushed the drone to 400ft and looked around the neighborhood, like a tourist, picking out landmarks. at one point i tried the panorama feature. i thought it was going to do a complete 360°, but after taking a handful of photos it stopped. when i tried to get out of that screen, i realized my phone was frozen. i would've panicked except i could see my drone, about 200ft in the air, just covering there. i tried to bring it home by hitting the return-to-home (RTH) button on the controller but it didn't do anything. my phone screen then went black. i got it to show my home screen and i reentered the DJI fly app. it went directly into camera view without missing a beat, and i was able to bring the drone back home. not sure what happened but i had my first glitch that didn't end in disaster.
my parents came home early, a bit before 4:30pm. we ate more leftover turkey for dinner.
afterwards, as a proof of concept, i tried flying the drone inside the house. at first it didn't work, because it couldn't connect to the GPS. but eventually it still let me fly, just with a warning that GPS wasn't activated. i still didn't know how to manually launch the drone, so i used auto takeoff again. the drone flew up to 3ft. i flew it towards my mother, who seemed to be scared of the noisy and windy drone. it was creating so much down draft that my mother said she was getting cold, as papers on her table were getting blown onto the floor. moved it across the living room and back. i then went in for a manual landing where i pushed the left joystick down. at first it seemed like it didn't want to land because it detected an obstruction with its sensor and popped back up a bit, but then it slowly descended all the way to the ground, turning off its motors.
i returned home by 7:30pm. later in the evening i did some photo backup so i could clear some space for all the drone footage i'm planning on making.
i didn't go to sleep until 5am last night and even then, i woke up at 7am to use the bathroom because my internal clock got all messed up and thought it was already time for my morning poop. i promptly went back to sleep, where i didn't wake up until 11am. i left by noontime for my parents' place, to eat more turkey and do some black friday shopping online. i took the motorcycle; there was so much moisture in the air (i think there was fog overnight) that condensation had formed on the chrome parts.
i was so busy telling my parents what i ordered late last night that i didn't have lunch until around 1:45pm.
i was having buyer's remorse over the t-fal cookware set i got for just $49. i think the material's very cheap (just non-stick aluminum, not anodized, not ceramic), maybe okay for simple cooks, but not a seasoned food maker like myself, i deserve something better and longer lasting. i got lost in the battle between quantity versus quality, and as a self-professed cheapskate, the allure of the low price was too great to resist. maybe these can be for roommates, and have another better set for when i live alone.
i also told my mother about ordering the samsung S9+, but she already knew that because her amazon app is under my account and it sent her an update. i was worried about cancelling-then-uncancelling last night, but the seller was okay with my indecision. but just today i came across the TCL 10 pro for $314, and it looked like an S9+ (with the curved screen edges), except there's a row of 4 cameras in the back (many with OIS). there was also the motorola edge (also an S9+ clone) for $400 (though the cameras don't have OIS). i started to think i acted too hastily in getting the samsung, but after reading a few reviews, the consensus was they looked good on paper but weren't great mid-tier phones. the S9+ - despite it's age - was the samsung flagship phone, so it has all the bells and whistles.
finally, i was looking up japanese apricots, after the opposite door neighbor handed my mother a note with the website to buy prunus mume saplings for planting in the spring. they were all out of the deep red varieties, only the pink (which look similar to our kwanzan cherry) and whites, so we ended up not getting one (frankly, we don't have the space either).
only when my mother came back from her walk did i finally have something to eat. today was a mostly grey day but warm, with temperature in the 50's again, similar to yesterday's weather minus the rain.
my parents decided to buy a joyoung electric baking pan (JK30U-D1). i was going to buy it from huarenstore.com (the same place where my parents got their joyoung soy milk maker), bit the $10 off black friday coupon was only good on purchases over $100 but the baking pan was just $99.99. we tried to pad the purchase but they had nothing we want. fortunately i found another place - yamibuy.com - that had it for the same price but with a 12% off black friday coupon so it was even cheaper. i'd never heard of yamibuy.com but my sister recognized the website, said one of the astrophysicists upstairs buy from them all the time judging from all the yamibuy logo boxes. besides asian cooking appliances, they also sell asian foods and cosmetics. we added some concentrated plum juice and hot konjac jellies, the final price was $95 including free shipping and no taxes.
the last thing i bought today was a pair of extended baofeng batteries (3800mAh) for $25. i found what looked to be similar batteries for $24 and was going to go with the cheaper option, but then discovered that the $25 batteries could not only be charged by the baofeng cradle, but through a special USB cable as well, which we bought ($4.74). i was also trying to see if i can get a pair of cheap DMR transmitters but the cheapest one i could find was still $75 transmitting on UHF/VHF at 5W (baofeng and radioddity).
instead of having turkey rollups for dinner, we had noodle soup in turkey broth.
my merrell moab 2 waterproof hiking shoes in beluga size 7.5 ($80) was waiting on my doorsteps when i got back home. i ordered the same size as my previous pair of moab so they fit perfectly. my old pair was not only worn out on the inner back heel, but it also lost its waterproof capability as my feet were wet the few times i went out in the rain with them on. even worse, they've developed a shoe funk i haven't been able to get rid off, i'll probably need to unlace them and soak them in some oxiclean to get rid of the smell. these not only serve as my hiking shoes, but also my rain and snow shoes (when it not too deep out, otherwise i wear my rubber boots as winter boots, although i should get a proper pair of waterproof winter boots as well, they not too expensive, i saw some waterproof nortiv 8 brand for $40).
i got really sleepy in the evening, almost decided to call it an early night and go to bed at 9:30pm. but i caught a second wind and suddenly regained all my energy.
i woke up around 8:30am so i could get ready for my sister to come pick me up at 9am. it was pouring rain outside, but even if it wasn't, i needed a ride anyway to bring the 16 servings of flan i made. i was surprised when my sister arrived right on time.
after she dropped me off at our parents' place, she went back home because she had more baking to do. typically thanksgiving cooking wouldn't start until after lunch, but because my parents' needed to get all the food prepared by 12-1pm, they had to start early. they were waiting for me with my online turkey roasting directions: 325°F in a convection oven for 2 to 2-1/2 hours. this year we had two turkeys: one for our relatives, one for ourselves. we cooked the one for our relatives first, divvying up the turkey amongst them: there was my aunt and uncle in arlington, my 2nd aunt and uncle in west cambridge, and my sister's godmother living in the apartment above my sister's place (my sister picked her up from the train station just yesterday).
at one point i accidentally smashed another of my mother's corning casserole dish. it didn't fall very far, just a foot, but that was enough to shatter it. my mother was surprised because normally those corning dishware are pretty durable. my mother swept up the pieces and my father told me to wear slippers, but i only do barefeet and sure enough, i managed to step on a shard of ceramic. i ended up having to put a bandaid on my foot after pulling out the ceramic splinter and it started to bleed.
while my parents were busy preparing the food - my father making the chunbing ("spring pancakes") while my mother made the side dishes including the fried spring rolls - i had very little to do myself. i moved some stuff into the basement and tried not to break anymore items. i did some more research on potential phone choices for my mother. the lead candidate was the google pixel 4A 5G for a while. i was hoping for a black friday discount of some sort but because the phone just came out a few short weeks ago, no way was google going to reduce the $499 price. that's when i took another look at the samsung S9+. i believe this was the phone both sandy and kelvin were using when they stayed here back in the winter of 2018. the S9+ was samsung's flagship phone from early 2018, nearly 3 years ago. even at that age (3 years is a long time for electronic devices), it still has features that beat a lot of current midrange phones: super AMOLED display, OIS cameras (wide and telephoto), stereo speakers, snapdragon 845, FM radio, fingerprint scanner, face-detection, wireless charging, NFC, headphone jack, SpO2 sensor, IP68 waterproof. the only thing i didn't like was long form-factor of the phone and how there are black bars on the top and bottom (as compared to modern phones, which are now entirely screen, with a cutout for a selfie camera).
every half hour or so i'd coat the turkey skin with the fat drippings, to keep it moist. at noontime - after 2 hours and 10 minutes of roasting - we stuck a heat thermometer into the breast to get a measurement of only 150°F. we decided to cook it for 20 more minutes. the thermometer only went up to 156°F but by that point we decided to take the turkey out of the oven, didn't want it to get too dry.
my father started carving up the turkey, filling boxes with slices of meat. later my mother took a crack at it, stuffing the boxes with as much turkey as possible. there was still a lot of meat left but i didn't eat any of it except for a small sample piece. our turkey would come later in the day. so while our relatives eat turkey for lunch, we're only eating it for dinner.
the final piece of the turkey takeout were the fried spring rolls. those had to be eaten fresh while they're so hot, so the moment they're done, my father called my aunt to come pick them up. she called back to let us know they'd be a little late. turns out the reason was they were grilling some barbecued shrimps to give us and waiting for them to finish cooking. they came a little bit after 1pm, got the turkey package (a box and a bag) and left. my parents continued frying more spring rolls before my mother and sister left to deliver them to my 2nd aunt and my sister's godmother.
only after that were my parents able to relax for a few hours.
at 3:30pm we started back up. into the oven went the second turkey, timed so it'd be ready to eat by 6pm. my father started making the second batch of chunbing. he took a brief break to fry some spring rolls with my mother (my mother would wrap them while he fried them) and eat said spring rolls, before going back to chunbing making.
we stopped roasting the turkey by 6pm. a meat thermometer inserted into the breast shot up to above 165°F (170° is the done point). my father carved up the turkey, only removing enough for us to eat, leaving the rest on the bird.
i ate 3 turkey rollups, which is a good number; normally i'm full by 2 rollups. afterwards we had dessert: besides my flan, my sister also made some sweet potato pie. she used japanese purple sweet potatoes but only had one so there was no purple color, more like light brown. we finally left by 8pm, my sister giving me a ride back to cambridge.
later in the evening i did some black friday shopping even though it wasn't black friday yet. i first started by deciding to get the renewed samsung galaxy S9+ for my mother ($289). i also added a 256GB samsung EVO select microSDXC memory card ($24.99) and a S9+ glass screen protector ($10.39). immediately afterwards i bought the DJI mini 2 more combo ($599). it too was also introduced recently, so there won't be any discounts, so might as well get it now so i can maybe get it by this weekend and play with it a little bit.
still later, i found a deal on walmart for a 22-piece t-fal cookware set for $49. it seemed too cheap to be true, so i spent a long time researching the cookware and all the sets i found were $100+. i debated long and hard but finally decided to get it, figuring i could always return it if i didn't like it. i wanted to get black because stains wouldn't be as noticeable, but was surprised when they were all sold out already. they did however still had the red cookware set. red seemed a little too flamboyant, but i'd had red cookware before. besides, at that price it was a steal. it'd mean i could finally stop using my old pots and pans that've been scratched up by past roommates and all the non-stick coating are coming off that every time i cook something i feel like i'm going to get cancer. replace the old set with these and maybe take my time looking for something better for when these new cookware start going bad themselves.
typically the days leading up to thanksgiving involves a lot of cleaning. not having guests over this year means we don't have to do any of that, which leaves me with a lot of free time and a lot less stress. still, thanksgiving is nevertheless essential because it forces us to clean the house once a year; without thanksgiving, my parents' place would get progressively cluttered and messy.
with thanksgiving just tomorrow, i'm still trying to eat light. for lunch i had a very sour (mostly likely expired) blueberry greek yogurt. i got hungry enough in the early evening to have a nissin instant cup of noodles. i remember i didn't like it the first time, but i think it was because i was using lukewarm water. this time around i used boiling water, and the noodles came out great, very similar to maruchan, i could hardly tell the difference. then for dinner i made another indomie mi goreng noodles with a poached egg.
i went out just once today, to star market to get some chips on sale. before that i rang renee's doorbell because she needed my help switching her phone. turns out it was a bit more complicated, as she's going onto her son's family shared plan with her new phone. i told her better to get it done at the local sprint office. i did help her put the phone in a new case, after i finally figured out how to open it.
anyway, there was a traffic jam on beacon street, caused by the pileup of people trying to buy pies at petsi's and car traffic going in and out. it was such a mess, i turned right around, but not before taking a few snapshots. i couldn't tell how crowded star market was, but there were a lot of cars in the parking lot, and i just assumed it was busy and decided it wasn't worth the risk.
not like i don't have things to eat in the house: i baked a package of hazelnuts. it's the perfect snack because it takes a bit of work to get to each kernel, preventing me from just eating the whole thing. only negative is the shells have a tendency to spray everywhere, i later i find hazelnut shells on the carpet.
frances asked me if i wanted to do a remote raid with her in oslo, to capture a mesprit. she invited so many people, we won the raid especially. i had 14 pokeballs to use on the mesprit, all of which failed. frances was kind enough to set up a second mesprit raid. once it was defeated, i was given 15 pokeballs this time. once more, i failed to capture the mesprit. the only good thing that came out of that is i used the screen recording feature on my pixel phone, recorded the final 40 seconds before failed miserably. the recording even captured me using some saucy language cursing the pokemon.
i spent the day retroactively filling in old blog posts with photos. i finished november, almost done with october. it'd be a lot easier if i could do it with a GUI but i'm doing it old school through HTML.
because it's raining tomorrow, i told my sister to come get me in the morning at 9am. i need to get to my parents' place early so we can roast the first of two turkeys. the first turkey is for our relatives, with food delivery around noontime. our own turkey we won't roast until around 2pm. my mother said my father was dead tired today after spending the whole day chopping up food and preparing the "takeout thanksgiving" for our various relatives.
i've put on 10 lbs. since the summer with my inactivity and snacking. that's why i'm trying to eat less, for two reasons: to lose weight but also to save my stomach for thanksgiving, where i'm probably going to add a few more pounds. for lunch i had some chicken sausage oatmeal; it wasn't that great, i think it's the generic store brand oatmeal i got, it's just too mushy. also the generic store brand worcestershire sauce? 99¢ sauce just isn't the same; next time i'm at the store i'm just going to spend more to get the good stuff. for dinner i had some indomie mi goreng. i thought i'd be hungry afterwards because the serving's so small, but it was actually pretty filling, along with a poached egg.
i only went out once today, to star market to return the unused vanilla extract. i thought it'd be a hassle but the worker there took it back, didn't even bother to see if i used it or not. i passed by petsi's pie, they set up a tent outside to take people's orders, and even then there was a long of folks waiting for pies. not going to lie, they're good pies, maybe me want to get a pecan one next week when all the hubbub has died down.
returning home, i noticed somebody had let their dog poop right outside my house but didn't clean it up. worse yet, people had already walked in it and there was crap everywhere. normally i could just rinse off the sidewalk with the hose, but we already put the hose away for the season. i could get on my hands and knees and scrub clean the sidewalk, but we're due for some steady rain on thanksgiving day, hopefully it can wash away the mess.
i was going to have some chocolate milk today (since i have a lot of leftover milk) but when i opened my container of nesquik, there were some pantry moth larvae living inside. i tossed out the whole container and later inspected some additional items in my cupboard, especially the boxes of grains. turns out moths had been living in my risotto rice, as well as my israeli couscous. at least one moth had also gotten into my large container of jasmine rice, not sure how that's even possible but because it has a sealed lid (maybe it can somehow crawl in through the seams). at some point i'm going to clean out that whole cupboard, there's a lot of expired stuff i should throw away like cookie mix.
i spent some time trying to fill in the backlog of web posts that are missing photos. i managed to get through a week in november, but i still have to go back all the way to june. only after i filled in these missing entries can i then erase the photos that are clogging up my macbook pro (they've already been safely backed up to two separate hard drives).
my mother wants a new phone and i've had my eyes on the google pixel 4A 5G. i was hoping there'd be a black friday discount from it's $499 retail price, but the phone just came out, i doubt there'd be any sort of sale. there are however a bunch of carrier deals, but those are a fool's bargain at best, you're either paying for retail via installments, or they make you sign up for a new 2-year contract that you'll end up paying more for despite receiving a discounted (or sometimes even free) phone upfront. i prefer to buy the phone outright. there's also the pixel 4A ($349), but the screen may be too small for comfort. i made paper cutouts of the dimensions so i could hold them in my hand and get a sense of just how small or big they're going to be.
thing is my mother said she wanted a small phone, but i doubt that's what she really wants, because a smaller screen means more eye strain. i've also looked at samsung phones, from the galaxy A51 ($325) to the A71 5G ($500). i have no doubt those phones are good, but they suffer from screen size creep, with the A51 at 6.5" and the A71 at a whopping 6.7", a total phablet if i ever saw one. from the reviews i've read about the A51, it also seems very slow.
despite the torrential rain, my father came to get me this morning so we could go to the 88 supermarket in malden to pick up some additional thanksgiving ingredients. temperature was in the 50's. there were a few spots around somerville that looked flooded as we splashed through deep pools of rainwater just to cross the road. arriving at super 88, there was only about a dozen customers, the bad weather must've kept many away.
the past few weeks i've visited just about every asian supermarket within the vicinity: boston c-mart, boston ming's market, allston super 88, reliable market in union square, and now malden super 88. what's kind of infuriating is i'll see the same things at the different stores, but the prices are always different. even if they're supposedly the same chain, prices can still fluctuate depending on which location, which makes me think they all operate independently. so if you're a bargain hunter like me, if you really want to get the best prices, you'll need to visit a bunch of stores. for example, at the malden 88, mei gui hua sweet rice was $9.99, but it was $7.99 at the allston 88. however, maldem 88 had kikkoman tonkatsu sauce for $2.99, while the allston 88 sold it for $3.99.
we arrived at malden super 88 at 11:30am and left an hour later. they don't offer free bags anymore and we forgot to bring ours, but fortunately there was a pile of empty boxes by the entrance and we packed our stuff into the boxes before wheeling the shopping cart to the car. we got to belmont by 1pm.
my mother made some mantou sandwiches with pickled greens and pork floss. earlier my father had fried the chicken feet (after he soaked them briefly in sugar and vinegar yesterday), and we were now boiling them in some spice broth.
later in the afternoon - when the rain had stopped - my father helped me bring some plants outside so i could spray them with neem oil. these includes some small potted jasmines, thai chili peppers, thai basil, and the toothache plant. i like to spray outside so the neem oil doesn't get everywhere.
the chicken feet were finally ready to eat. texture wise they were perfect, but i felt the sauce wasn't strong enough, too oily, not enough salt. still, it was a good proof of concept for the next time we want to make chicken feet. my father said the key is to fry them first, because it puffs up the connective tissues and the skin, making them not only more tender but easier to eat.
good news today: trump has finally directed his team to cooperate on president-elect joe biden's transition. trump still hasn't conceded (doubtful if he ever will), but at least he's facing the reality that he will no longer be the presidency in less than 2 more months, and his multiple legal challenges to block votes and change the election results are just political theatre with zero changes of victories. our national nightmare is one step closer to being finally over.
after dinner my father gave me a ride back to cambridge along with two trays of flan ramekins. it wasn't raining but the temperature was dropping. by tomorrow morning it'd be in the 30's.
the monday before thanksgiving is traditionally the day i make my annual flan. last year i tried something different and used coconut milk instead of whole milk. the consistency was thicker, but i couldn't really taste the coconut, and i think people preferred my old recipe, so this year i'm returning to the classic. i needed a few simple ingredients and it wasn't worth it braving a trip to market basket just to save a few dollars, so i went to star market instead. i had plenty of sugar back at home, but i needed milk ($3.29), eggs ($2.79), and vanilla extract ($9.99). when i returned, i discovered i still had vanilla, so i'm going to return the unused vanilla tomorrow.
preheat oven to 350°F. mix eggs with sugar and salt. mix in remaining liquid ingredients. set aside, let bubbles dissipate. boil a kettle of water and pour into lasagna dishes lined with 8 ramekins each. caramelize remaining sugar (melt in small batches, 3/4 cups each), coating ramekin bottoms. pour in flan mixture, using fine mesh strainer to catch any unmixed egg bits. bake for 120 minutes, switching trays after 1 hours to brown evenly.
i used the bathroom and took a shower first before i finally started making the flan around 9:30pm.
i worked while watching an encore broadcast of netflix's gilmore girls: a year in the life on the CW network. there was also a monday night football game between the las angeles rams and tom brady's buccaneers. i was making 16 flan servings, the same as last year. my mother wanted me to make more (20 at least), even though usually she's always telling me to make less. i would've made more but i couldn't find my large size aluminum baking pan (which can hold 12 ramekins), so i had to use a smaller baking pan and my largest glass lasagna dish, each holding 8 ramekins maximum. i brought back all the glass ramekins from my parents' place, where they've been since last thanksgiving.
by 10pm i was pouring the caramel layers into the ramekins, already in their hot water bath, and with the oven preheating. it didn't take long for me to pour in the flan mixture, the portions were exact that i didn't have any left over. into the oven went the two trays at 10:20pm, to be baked for 2 hours, with a tray switch at the 1 hour mark.
at 12:20am the flan was supposed to be finished, but only the flan on the top rack had turned brown. i took out that tray and left the other tray to bake for 20 minutes minutes to brown it a bit more. browning is an unnecessary step, since it's actually the bottom layer of the flan, but i like to do it anyway just because it looks better.
i removed all the ramekins from the trays and let them cool over a rack. later i put them back into the trays, covered with plastic wrap, then put them into the refrigerator. they need 2 days for the caramel layer to melt and fuse into the flan, so they'll be ready by thursday.