in the late morning i went down to the basement to take my bike wheel out of the rust removal solution. what i saw was pretty startling: the rust was gone! the freewheel had also seemed to change colors, before it was a dull black speckled with reddish brown rust, now it was silver speckled with a few dark stains. the largest cog still had some rust on it and that's because it probably wasn't submerged in the evaporust. once i get the freewheel removed, i can properly soak it again to remove and final bits of rust. but evaporust really works!
i microwaved a slice of baked ziti for lunch. as it was not only rainy outside but cold as well, there was nothing to do but stay inside the house. i left the house in the early to attend a lecture at the harvard natural history museum. i bumped into bruce, who was on his way to buy a burrito for dinner.
the lecture was "a dive into the northeast canyons and seamounts marine national monument" by scott kraus. located 150 miles off of the coast of cape cod, it's a hot spot of marine life. kraus was a good speaker, and slides of animals i'd never seen before was a treat. i learned that fin whales are naturally asymmetrical in their colorations, dark on one side, light on the other, perhaps as a way to herd fish. i also learned that not much is known beaked whales because they dive so deep and stay underwater for so long, not even photos of them underwater, their activities instead extrapolated from echolocation data.
i had another slice of baked ziti for dinner, this time heating it for about half an hour at 350°F in the toaster oven.
after soaking in the evaporust solution overnight, it was time to check on the status of my bike chain and hex wrenches. i was sort of underwhelmed by the bike chain condition. it didn't look like new and the metal seemed darker than before. only after washing and drying the chain did it look a bit better. as for the wrenches, there wasn't a lot of rust to begin with, but what little rust they had were now completely gone. one thing i noticed is the treated wrenches are lighter in color than the untreated. i wonder if the evaporust stripped off some protective coating, but that coating wasn't working very well to begin with if the wrenches can still get rusty. but overall, i wasn't exactly impressed with evaporust.
after installing the chain back onto my cargo bike and oiling it up with some triflow oil, i decided to treat the rusty freewheel with some used evaporust. i tried removing the freewheel with a freewheel removal socket, but i only had a pair of tongue-and-groove pliers and i couldn't get enough force. while i unscrewed the axle nut and removed the axle rod, i heard things falling out of the axle. it took me a few seconds to realize they were the loose ball bearings that live inside the axle. a bunch of them scattered to the ground, i managed to find most of them, but i'm sure i'm still missing a few.
unable to remove the freewheel, i followed the evaporust instructions for treatment large objects so i soaked some paper towels and wrapped up the freewheel. that's when i realized i could just easily turn the wheel over and soak the protruding freewheel in a small container of rust remover. i ended up using the pre-soaked rust removal paper towels on various rusty areas on my cargo bike.
sometimes with bikes, the more you fix, the more things break. fortunately i've done ball bearing work in the past, so it wasn't new to me. unable to find the missing ball bearings meant i'd have to order some new ones. you can't just order one or two, they only sell them online in bulk. i ended up paying $5.95 for a package of 144 1/4" sunlite brand carbon steel ball bearings. i figured i'd replace all of them (18 total, 9 on each side), and would still have enough to upgrade a few other axles as well. my only fear is once i package everything up, i'll discover something else wrong (like maybe the axle itself needs replacing), and it's going to take even longer to fix. i've done a lot of work on my trek cargo bike, but it's definitely more about functionality than looks. it's at a point now where a simple 4-digit combination lock would suffice for security as i doubt anyone would ever want to steal that junky bike.
i continued fixing my sister's computer, this time backing up all her files from the external memory card drive. yesterday i found an app that allowed me to merge all her photos (iphotos and photos databases). i wanted to erase the memory card but just needed my sister to verify that i backed up all the files that were important to her. in the end i managed to clear up enough memory on her main hard drive to give her nearly 20GB of free space.
i biked to market basket for some groceries. i noticed the replacement rear wheel working much better now. before, the freewheel wouldn't spin on its own in the reverse direction, so whenever i pushed the bike, the pedals would also rotate along with the rear wheel (hitting me in the shins). i thought maybe this was just a characteristic of the wheel itself, but turns out that's not normal. anyway, after i've been riding this wheel for a while, something must've loosened up because it doesn't do that anymore, the freewheel spins freely now. unfortunately, the tire was a little flat, so i pumped it before i left. it means the replacement tube is not the best and needs to be replaced with a new tube at some point. maybe it went flat because i was carrying so much weight back on saturday.
despite all the puffy clouds, there was also periods of intense sun. conditions were good enough to produce 39.45kWh of energy, the best production within the past 9 days. tomorrow looks to be a raining day (already put the bike away in the basement) so i'm not expecting much solar activity, but after thursday we've got a stretch of sunny days so here's hoping we break another single day record.
since the day was still nice, and i'd be stuck home all day because of the rain, i rode down to the cafe to return my sister's computer. ikea finally delivered her couch and she was assembling it in the living room. i helped her move the couch before leaving.
|BAKED ZITI||(6 servings)|
16 oz. box of ziti
1 onion, chopped
1 lbs. ground beef
26 oz. tomato sauce
15 oz. ricotta cheese
8 oz. shredded mozzarella
3 oz. parmesan cheese
|bake 350°F 40 minutes|
i made baked ziti for dinner. i've never had baked ziti before, but i always hear it mentioned when it comes to italian food. ingredients-wise there wasn't that much: $4 for a pound of 85% lean ground beef, $1.99 for a bag of shredded mozzarella, $1.89 for a 15 oz. of ricotta cheese, a $2.50 jar of classico tomato sauce, and a box of barilla ziti pasta for $1. everything else (onion, egg, parmesan cheese) i already had at home. much of the recipe reminded me of making lasagna, instead of layering the flat lasagna noodles, i just blended the cheese and egg mixture with the pasta once it finished cooking. the first layer was meat sauce, followed by a layer of cheese pasta. another layer of meat sauce, another layer of cheese pasta, followed by a final layer of meat sauce, before sprinkling half the remaining mozzarella and half the parmesan as a topping.
the final baked ziti was okay, but bland. i used too little beef (should've gotten 2 lbs. of ground beef), so there wasn't very much meat sauce, mostly just cheese and pasta. typically with lasagna i can eat two slices once fresh from the oven, but after just a single bland slice i was done. i wanted to watch the expanse on syfy, but i couldn't get it to stream live through roku (no such option) or online from their website (said my flash plugin was out of date when it wasn't). at 10pm i did stream the latest live episode of the americans from the FX roku channel.
i tried evaporust on my bicycle chain. the chain itself didn't seem all that rusty after i took it off my cargo bike. maybe because i recently oiled it and rode the bike a few times, which is typical how i get rid of chain rust. i also wiped down the chain with a rag to get rid of any residual grease. i found a small enough plastic container to hold the chain and poured in some evaporust. i'm a real klutz when it comes to pouring so of course i spilled some on the floor. but being that evaporust is supposedly super safe, i wasn't that worried. i poured enough just to cover the chain.
later i added a few hex wrenches i had lying around that had a tiny bit of rust. the evaporust solution went from clear to yellow to rusty brown then almost black as the day wore on. looking at the chain and the wrenches, i didn't really notice any improvements, but in order for maximum rust removal, i'd have to let everything soak overnight (12 hours).
i biked down to the cafe in the afternoon to help my sister do her taxes at her place. it was pretty much done the minute i input her single MISC-1099 form last night, but i just her to take a look. it ended up taking almost an hour because she wanted to input some donations, which made no difference in the end regarding the amount she had to pay (federal) and her refund (state), including several $1 donations. since the local post offices were almost closed (the only one opened was the main office at south station), my sister e-filed: free for federal, but $25 for state. it didn't send the first time, but after i applied the turbotax updates, it send out successfully. i returned home by 4:30pm.
my replacement tire arrived today, a day earlier than expected: the kenda K-193 kwest commuter wire bead SRC/PRC black 26" x 1.5" ($17). and though not advertised, the tire also has a reflective strip which i didn't have on any of my previous kenda tires. if i could, all my tires would have reflective strips: it's just an additional layer of passive safety. if this new tire works well, i might order another one (with reflective strip) for the front wheel.
i brought home my sister's macbook pro to fix. i wasn't planning to work on it until later, or possibly even tomorrow, but i don't often get to play with other macbooks besides my own, so i was curious. also there's something about a misbehaving mac that's irresistible to me, i've yet to face a broken apple computer that i wasn't able to fix.
the macbook had 2 hard drives: the original 128GB SSD and a 128GB memory card semi-permanently embedded in the SD card slot. the computer also had two operating systems: 10.9 and 10.11. 10.11 is the one i wanted, but every time i booted into the system, the computer would act weird. first, it was incredibly slow, second, it'd always automatically open up the same apps, finally, whatever changes i make wouldn't take because the system would freeze up whenever i tried to restart/shutdown. all of these symptoms made me think it was a malware/virus issue. the only way i could do any work on this machine was to boot up in the 10.9 partition. it was only after i opened disk utility did i discover the problem: i thought 10.9 was on the memory card and 10.11 on the SSD, but it was the other way around. the reason why the 10.11 partition was so slow was precisely because it was running off of the memory card, something i didn't believe could be possible.
after making that discovery, the solution seemed obvious: upgrade 10.9 on the SSD to 10.12 (OS X sierra), backup the files on 10.11, erase the 10.11 drive, copy back all the files. the app store allowed me to download the installer for OS X 10.12 (i could also jump from 10.9 to 10.12 without having to install all the incremental versions) but i didn't have enough memory on the SSD drive. so i backed up all the music files (around 25GB), erase half of it to make space, then installed 10.12 from a thumb drive OS X installer i prepared last night, so i didn't have to waste time downloading it again.
today we produced 26.83kWh, a little bit more than half of peak production. it was the first day of significant production after 2 days of single digit energy generation.
i ate late, around 9pm, making a salad and roasting some asparagus.
julie texted me at 8:12am this morning to let me know she was skipping watching the marathon outside as the weather was just too nasty today. that was my thinking as well, and i'm glad she cancelled. the problem wasn't the torrential rain, or the cold temperature (30-40's), but rather the intense winds. rain and cold i can handle, but if it's very windy, that's going to make it a struggle holding an umbrella as well as a camera.
steve sent me an e-mail this morning. it's never good news when i receive anything from him. he told me that his 2nd floor bay window roof was leaking, had been leaking since this past winter, when during one particularly bad rain nor'easter, water was just pouring into his living room from the roof. he wanted to repair it before his tenants arrive mid-may. he already got an estimate, $3750. that seemed high for a little patch of roof, given that it cost us $8960 to replace the entire roof exactly 5 years ago (during the height of marathon bombing hysteria no less). a second option would be to patch it temporarily, with a more permanent fix at some future date. it took me an hour to craft the perfect response, but the gist was we should patch it immediately, then get additional estimates, as the proposed cost from ranch roofing (who did our main roof replacement) seemed a little high. he replied back, ALL CAPS for some reason, agreed to what i wrote, said they didn't have time to research other roofing companies (though i'd be welcomed to do so), said they'd contact ranch roofing to do the temporary patch.
i watched live marathon coverage on television, while listening to the pitter-patter of steady raindrops on my windowpanes. a part of me still wanted to see it in boston, rainy days make for dramatic snapshots, but conditions were just too terrible. in fact, my parents didn't open the cafe today, figuring they wouldn't get any customers given the bad weather. it could be worse, at least it's not snowing like in some other parts of the US experiencing the same weather system. good thing about running in the pouring rain: nobody can see you cry and nobody can see you pee.
the woman winner turned out to be american desiree linden, the first american woman in 33 years to win the boston marathon. conditions were so rough that all the top contenders dropped out mid-race, and american women took 7 of the top 10 spots, with only one ethiopian in 9th place. linden looked gaunt, and was seen shivering after the race in her skeletal frame once the adrenalin wore off. on the men side, the winner was japanese yuki kawauchi, nicknamed the "citizen runner" because running is just a hobby, as he works full-time in a regular office job and doesn't have any endorsements. kawauchi seemed like a fun guy with stories to tell, but he only spoke japanese, and the translator was slow to translate, so much was lost in translation.
i finally tried the unicorn cereal i bought a few days ago. it's okay, your typical generic sugar cereal taste, it's more about the novelty of eating unicorn cereal than anything else. i also had a tea egg and a few gold nugget oranges.
the storm didn't stop and picked up in intensity as the afternoon wore on, darkening the sky and driving the rain horizontally into the house. i imagined buckets of water pouring from my neighbor's ceiling.
i went out for another harvard asian studies lecture, "ideas and ideologies competing for china’s future" presented by mareike ohlberg and kristin shi-kupfer - two germans from the mercator institute for china studies (MERIC), one of the leading international think tanks on china. shi-kupfer took every opportunity to show off her chinese, while her partner was more subdued. two different people i didn't know waved to me only to sheepishly pull back once they realized i wasn't who they thought i was; i must have a doppelganger lurking at harvard. once again, the topic was more interesting than the actual talk. the gist of the talk was about an online poll they did with 1500 chinese (back when polls were still legal) regarding how they saw china's future. there were some interesting ideas, especially one professor who saw that china was perhaps trying to recreate the technocratic surveillance state of east germany.
it was still raining substantially before and after the lecture. i tried out my largest ace teah umbrella (46"), which didn't seem all that large once deployed in the field, but kept me drier than my typical umbrellas. with its 10 ribs i was more confident it wouldn't invert in strong winds, but i also didn't want to try my luck.
it seemed almost surreal when it was revealed today that michael cohen's secret 3rd client is none other than sean hannity. michael cohen the criminal lawyer (emphasis on criminal), self-proclaimed fixer, helped trump hush mistresses, helped RNC fundraiser elliott broidy cover up the pregnancy of his own mistress, and now we have sean hannity. even though he denies it, it's become the norm for trump supporters to blatantly lie in the face of truth, so we can only assume it's something equally scandalous.
my sister called me in the early evening, said the turbotax software i gave her wouldn't install on her system because her OS was too old (10.9, system requirement was 10.11+). "then you can't use the software," i said, which made her immediately hang up. i called her back, asking why she was only now doing her taxes with it due tomorrow, and she hung up again and turned off her phone. i tried calling her back more than a dozen times. finally she texted 30 minutes later apologizing. i called her back and tried to troubleshoot her computer issue. either the hard drive was damaged, the system corrupt, or just infested with malwares. for some reason she had 2 systems installed on her machine. the one that had OS X 10.11 was the one with the problem. for some reason the whole time she kept blaming me even though i was trying to help her, "ever since you upgraded my system, nothing worked," as if it's my fault that she's only now doing her taxes. she hung up on me again. i called her back and left a voicemail, warned her if she ever hung up on me again, she'd be sorry. i got her on the phone once more. long story short, even if she got her laptop working, she's has to work tomorrow, so won't even have time to do her taxes, so she sent me her turbotax files from last year and i said i'd do them for her, and then go over them tomorrow afternoon before sending it out. somehow i just knew that eventually in the end i'd be doing my sister's taxes. it makes me so angry, because this is something she should be doing herself, and if i help her instead of letting her learn her lesson, she's only going to repeat her mistakes again. and with taxes due tomorrow, i'm essentially forced into help her, or let her pay the fine, which i know my parents would eventually have to pay as my sister has no money. honestly, it doesn't take me that long to do her taxes, and if we're not doing any deductibles, i can have it done in just a few minutes using her old records. but it's the principle of it.
it was almost 9pm when i finally got off the phone with my sister. i didn't have dinner yet and made a chicken caesar salad with the last of my leftover grilled chicken breast.
last night i began reading the song of achilles by madeline miller. i couldn't put it down, finally forcing myself to go to sleep by 3am. the prose just seems poetic, using simple words to convey deeper meanings. she name drops a whole bunch of famous ancient greek characters and i found myself looking them up on wikipedia, which accidentally spoiled some plot points. how i came across the novel was through a book review in entertainment weekly about her latest work, circe. the reviewer gave the novel a good grade, but said it wasn't as good as her last book, the song of achilles, which got my intrigued enough to do a search.
i speed walked to harvard square in the cold freezing rain (temperature in the 30's) to catch the next bus to belmont. by the time i got to the station my leg muscles were aching but there was no bus in sight, it must've just left. so i sat and waited, next bus wouldn't arrive until almost 20 minutes. but the bus hadn't left yet, it was just late, so everything worked out.
my mother made some chicken noodle soup for lunch, roasted some shelled hazelnuts in the toaster oven.
i helped my mother upgrade her dramafever account ($50/year) so she could watch commercial-free (that was her biggest gripe). an additional unintended but welcomed benefit is the videos are all HD quality when you have a pro account. unfortunately not all the shows have chinese subtitles, but enough do that she can watch for a while before running out of chinese subtitled shows.
after dinner i took the bus back home to cambridge. it was still cold and still raining. just imagine: the marathon runners tomorrow morning will be running in weather similar to this. rainy nights in the city makes for pretty photos, and i took out my camera mounted with the 28mm f/1.8 lens to take a few snapshots.
james comey gave his first interview tonight on ABC (10pm) in advance of his book coming out next week. the actual interview was probably only a third of the show, the rest being exposition and biographical fillers. comey said trump wasn't physical unfit to be president, just morally unfit to do so. he also gave a surprising answer, said he didn't want trump to be impeached, but rather prefer him to be voted out, thereby answering the will of the people instead of the whims of a few politicians.
i went down to haymarket in the early afternoon. i'd forgotten it was marathon weekend so boston was packed with people, including haymarket. a lot of tourists, a lot more cameras than usual. i left with a sizable haul: 24 navel oranges ($4), 10 blood oranges ($2), 1 lbs. of long hot peppers ($2.50), 3 3lbs. bag of gold nugget oranges (2@$2.50, 1@$2), 2 boxes of strawberries ($2), 2 bunches of asparagus ($2), and one watermelon ($3). the watermelon was the most challenging to bring home. first i wheeled my bike to the watermelon stand for easier loading. i didn't have my bungie netting, so i put everything into my rear baskets so i'd have enough room in my large backpack to carry the watermelon and a few other items.
back at home, i squeezed a fresh container of orange juice with the new epica juicer. i used a tall glass this time to catch the juice, preventing less splashback. after i finished, i touched the base of the juicer and felt that it was slightly warm. this is actually normal, rotation of the motor mechanism produces heat.
my nest thermostat updated it's user interface today (actually yesterday but i only noticed it today). i don't like it, now all the options are on a single screen and it looks very cluttered. later i read online that they updated the UI to coincide with the introduction of the new nest remote temperature sensor, which can monitor the temperature of the house elsewhere besides at the thermostat itself. unfortunately the sensor only works with nest v3 (i have v2) and the nest E (something about not enough memory on the older nests).
i spoke with my father earlier, who was at the cafe while my mother was at home. he told me i should go back to belmont, where he was bringing home some more lion's head meatballs after work. so i packed up my bike and headed to the cafe first. i got as far as almost mass ave when i noticed something was off with the bicycle. i pulled over and checked the rear wheel: completely flat. when this happened i'm not sure, but i was afraid it might've even happened as early as on my way back from haymarket, because i felt the bike was riding a bit sluggish. i'd just assumed it was because i had so much cargo in the back, but turns out it might've been due to a flat tire. the rim wasn't damaged but the sidewalls of the tire looked pretty mashed. that particular tire had issues already, i'd already rode it once with a flat tire without realizing it. i turned back, wheeling the bike home, trying to lift up the back seat so there wouldn't be so much weight on the back, but impossible to accomplish with the baskets loaded with oranges and one big watermelon.
i spent the next hour working on the bike. first i re-inflated the tire to see if it was still okay. it was a longshot, but occasionally a tire might go flat on its own over time, and i just didn't notice, although i do check my tires before i ride long distance, and it was still okay when i left the house to haymarket. it didn't take long before i heard a distinctive hissing sound. with the bike upside down, i slowly spun the rear wheel, trying to find the leak. it didn't take long: it wasn't so much a leak as a completely blown out sidewall. the pressure escaping was so pressurized that it was coming out as cold spittle. even if i changed out the inner tube, the tire would need to be replaced as well.
my next option was to hopefully find a rear wheel compatible with my cargo bike from the assortment of old bikes in the basement. my trek 850 mountain bike had the right size wheel (26") but the tire itself was the large knobby kind. i was ready to remove the wheel when i remembered i had another old trek bike that ed gave me as a gift before he moved out. i've never used that bike and wouldn't feel bad stripping it for parts. it had the right size wheel and looked like a perfect match for my trek cargo. it didn't have a quick release and nuts didn't come loose when i wrenched it until i sprayed it with some triflow oil. once i removed the wheel i realized one issue: this had a 5-speed freewheel while my cargo bike usd a 7-speed. this was only temporary anyway, it wasn't ideal but would work for the time being. so i installed it onto my cargo bike. there was a bit of wobble in the axle, but i adjusted the brake pads for more clearance. i pumped up the tire and prepared to ride.
when i returned to the bike i noticed immediately the rear tire was flat. oh no, the inner tube was bad. so i flipped the bike over again, removed the wheel, stripped off the tire, and took out the inner tube. i didn't have a new replacement, but i did have an old tube that i patched up a while ago for emergency use. i put in the tube, reattached the tire to the rim, and pumped up the wheel. then i waited to see if the new old tube would deflate. after several minutes it was still hard so i knew i was good.
during that whole hour i was kind of surprised with my own ability. when did i know so much about bikes? i felt like i was operating on autopilot, here's the problem, here's the solution, here's another problem, here's another solution. bicycles are really easy to work with, there are only so many parts.
instead of stopping at the cafe (it was already 4pm), i went straight to belmont.
my mother didn't realize i was coming home, and was surprised to see all the fruits i brought. she only wanted the gold nuggets, of which i brought 2 bags. when i first saw them they didn't look like gold nuggets, which are very ugly yet super sweet; they looked more like regular clementines, or mandarin oranges. i bought them anyway ($2.50/bag). later while i was leaving, i saw another vendor had gold nuggets as well. these looked more promising, ugly large oranges, only $2/bag. so i bought a bag. i think one of them is fake, and i'm guessing it was the first vendor; most likely they had some extra oranges and just packaged them up into gold nugget bags. but i tried one of the smaller orangs and they were super sweet, so i didn't feel like i got ripped off. we also tried one of the bigger ugly gold nugget oranges; they were very sweet as well, but not as sweet as the smaller variety.
it was a good night to take a bath. the water is never hot enough, and i end up having to drain it midsoak just so i can refill it back with hotter water. afterwards, i double plunged the tub - my real reason for filling it up in the first place. it seems to be draining better now, or at the very least i saw a whirlpool circling the drain.
wangyang contacted me tonight, asked if i could do her a favor. back in shanghai, her son is taking online english lessons, but wangyang was concerned with the pronunciation of one of the online teachers. so gave me her login info so i go into her account and check out one of the lesson videos, which are all logged. i thought the teacher, alisa rodriquez, was pretty good, spoke very animatedly, like she was used to talking with children. she also had a very distinctive foreign hipster vibe, with her pageboy haircut, cat-eye glasses, and yellow turtleneck sweater. she did have an accent, not american, not british, and not really spanish either, sort of hard to pinpoint. i relayed this information to wangyang, who said she'd already spoken with the language company to get a different teacher.
there was another harvard lunch lecture, "gender, gambling, and the state in the militarized islands between china and taiwan" by lin wei-ping. there was also an asian studies anniversary event happening today, so the turnout for this lecture was not as large despite the free food. when i came in, i saw some graduate students not attending the lecture had already pilfered some food and secretly eating in their cramped offices. i've learned from experience that the title to these lectures are always more ambitious than the lectures themselves. this one just focused on the matsu islands, the first half of the lecture talking about matsu's history, the second half about gambling practices. i didn't really get how the various pieces tied together, or why gambling in matsu was any different than gambling elsewhere. still, it was interesting, but seemed a little unfinished.
my original plan was to go down to boston, do some business at the downtown crossing MBTA office, get lunch at chacarero, then visit haymarket. but since i already had lunch, and the weather was still a little cold, i decided to postpone my haymarket trip until tomorrow. i also had amazon packages arriving, and wanted to be home to receive them. after i biked home i left soon afterwards for the cafe where my parents said they made curry and lion's head meatballs. along the way i saw yet another house with solar panels, a house on tierney street, as seen from rc kelley street. they had a perfectly southern facing roof, though a large was in the way that might limit their winter time production. after i picked up some meatballs and pineapple, i returned home.
my packages finally arrived by 4pm. the delivery guy in all likelihood would've just left them on my doorstep if i wasn't home as none of the items required a signature.
first there was a set of 4x neewer 35W 5500K CFL photography lights ($14.99). counting the threads on the helix i knew they were long, but i wasn't prepared for just how long, longer than a can of soda. they might get in the way if i'm making a tabletop softbox, but i'll only know for sure once i start building the DIY lowel ego. with my camera's manual white balance set to 5500K the light gives good colors. how well they mimic natural sunlight i'll find out eventually.
the replacement epica citrus juicer arrived with all parts intact and unbroken. i put the pieces together and test squeezed some oranges. i knew already it was quiet. when i juiced half an orange i was afraid of pressing down too hard that i might break the motor, which i think was what happened to my old braun juicer. but it didn't seem to mind the downward force, the reamer kept spinning without any problems. the reamer comes in two sizes, stacked on top of each other; i used the larger size, which i believe is for oranges (or larger citrus fruit), while the smaller size is for lemons and limes.
even though i thought i had the spout closed, orange juice still poured out a few seconds after i started juicing. that's when i discovered that the spout is not very well made, fragile plastic parts that look like they could break easily. besides that, the alignment was off by just a fraction, so the spout didn't close completely. it's something that's adjustable, but i don't know why epica didn't make a sturdier component. in fact, the whole top half of the juicer is plastic, with the exception of the metal strainer, while the bottom half is solid metal.
i juiced 5 oranges. the epica juicer did a pretty good job cleaning out the orange, the small amount of leftover pulp spun into a whorl pattern. once in a while there seemed to be enough pulp on the strainer that needed to be cleaned, which i did with a spoon, eating the sweet mashed pulp like baby food. there was only a tiny bit of splash, unlike the braun juicer which squirted juice everywhere (that could also be because of how gently i was pressing).
since i still had some oranges in the fridge (5) and would buy even more tomorrow, i drank the orange juice myself. of all the orange juice i squeezed, i've never had it for myself, usually taking just a sip before leaving the rest for my mother. this orange juice was intensely sweet, almost unpleasantly so. the sunkist navel oranges i used were maybe a little bit over-ripen, a few of them had soft spots (sign of impending rot), and perhaps already fermenting the sugar. still, better than any store-bought orange juice, fresh-squeezed just tastes different in a good way.
also arrived were a set of 12oz. corelle bowls (winter frost white) and a gallon container of evaporust. i saw videos of this product online and it looks amazing. i noticed the guy in the video wasn't wearing any gloves and seemed kind of dangerous. then i discovered that evaporust is actually marketed as a "super safe" rust remover: no acids, non-toxic, non-flammable, odorless, biodegradable. it seems too good to be true but i wanted to try it for myself.
in the evening for dinner i heated up the lion's head meatballs rice box my mother had prepared for me dinner. i sprinkled some japanese furikake for additional flavor.
cambridge has started curbside recycling recently and i've already collected a large bin of organic trash. the weird thing is it doesn't smell at all, despite all the banana and orange peels, lettuce hearts, sunflower shells, eggshells, used paper towels, and teabags i've thrown inside. it also hasn't attracted any insects but it's still early in the season that bugs aren't out yet. it's kind of a shame that i can't use all this organic waste myself, but i don't have enough space in the backyard to set up a compost bin, plus it would also rats as i live in a fairly urban area. i've noticed a good part of my trash is organic matter. now that i've been separately out my trash, i don't seem to need to throw out my regular trash as often, maybe every 2 weeks or so. however, now my regular trash has a terrible smell because i threw out some chicken breast packaging a few days ago.
my epica citrus juicer arrived shortly after noontime. i was very excited and couldn't wait to play with it after i finished eating my prosciutto egg english muffin sandwich for lunch. it's a lot taller than my braun juicer, but looks sturdier and has the necessary heft. i noticed the spout was detached and i couldn't figure out how to attach it after a cursory look, so i consulted the manual. the manual gave no instructions on attaching the spout. so i gave it a closer look and realized to my horror that the spout had actually broken off, two screw hole mounts on the main plastic receptacle where it snapped off. maybe i could superglue it back, but this was unacceptable for a brand new machine. it was strange that the juicer arrived in its retail box, normally it'd be packaged in another box with some packaging bubbles. and the box itself had a few puncture marks, which might've explained the damaged spout, but everyone else looked normal.
the quickest course of action would be to return it and buy a new one; since it had free 1-day delivery through amazon, i could have another juicer as early as tomorrow friday. but i heard epica has good customer service (their appliances have lifetime warranties) so i called up the company instead to see if they had a better solution. i got a service representative would asked for my amazon order number, which seemed strange, because i didn't order directly through epica but rather from a 3rd party amazon vendor, but the rep was actually able to pull up my info anyway, knew my address at least. the rep said they could replace the broken spout free of charge, but it'd take a few days to arrive. i told her it'd be quicker if i returned and replaced the juicer via amazon, and she said it was my decision, so i opted to do that instead. after ordering another epica juicer, i printed out a return mailing label and taped it to the box i was returning. before i packaged up the broken device, i did try it out briefly, pressed down on the reamer as it was plugged in. it rotated well, good torque, and was quieter than my braun juicer. low noise is one of its advertised features, not something i was specifically looking for, but appreciated nevertheless. it almost seems too quiet, as i associate loud noise with a more powerful motor. hopefully i get a better unit tomorrow so i can juice the 10 navel oranges still in my fridge.
at least today we produced more electricity (38.30kWh) than yesterday but it was not a record day and we didn't break 40kWh. an upper 30kWh average is still pretty good; the amount of clear sky to produce more than 40kWh is simply unrealistic. maybe if we lived in the dry desert, but here in new england with our multi-variable weather and being so close to the ocean, there are always clouds in the sky. a perfectly clear day for the entirety of the day is rare.
i ate my leftover beef stew for dinner, along with some roasted asparagus with garlic (20 minutes at 400°F in the oven) and a glass of chocolate milk. for dessert, some blood orange slices followed by half a dozen cream puffs. i blame the cream puffs (i am increasingly lactose intolerant after all), but it could've easily been any number of things i had for dinner, as i suffered through several bouts of explosive diarrhea the rest of the night.
after fiddling around with the broken juicer last night - taking it apart and putting it back together to see how it functions - i found nothing wrong with it. so i was excited to give it a second try in the hopes that it'd work this time. but when i attached the cone and tried to juice an orange half, once again it grounded to a halt. there simply isn't enough torque, the slightest resistance can stop the gearing. so i went back to my old braun juicer, and was dismayed to discover that it too was succumbing to jamming. finally i had to bust out my manual juice press which has been sitting in a box on top of my kitchen cabinet gathering dust.
the metrokane mighty OJ was definitely manufactured prior to 1994, because no product today would brand itself anything "OJ" as that term is largely associated with the infamous OJ simpson now. billed as a 'classic retro '50's design', it's actually kind of expensive, retailing for $45 but purchased at a discount of $34.99 from kitchen etc. i don't remember ever using it, but it was heavily stained (some mysterious red juice), like maybe a former roommate secretly tried it out but put it back into the box without washing it first. the might OJ is heavy, and at no time was i not worried that the metal handle would somehow snap and i'd smash the glass of orange juice to smithereens. however, it did work, but there was a lot of waste, i probably only extracted 50-75% of the juice.
later i went online to buy a new juicer. the default was the $16 plastic black+decker, but it was too similar to the broken juicer i found so i was looking to avoid that mistake. the $27 cuisinart brushed stainless CCJ-500 looked promising, but the motor was only 25W, simply not enough power, and actually less than the all plastic black+decker which is 30W. the top of the line home juicer was the die-cast stainless-steel breville 800CPXL 110W, but that thing costs $200, and as much as i love squeezing my own OJ, i wasn't going to pay $200 for the privilege. there was a $50 eurolux juicer with an astonishing 160W; it looked promising but the plastic handle seemed like it would break at some point, better to have less parts to worry about. i finally decided on the $41.50 epica citrus juicer. it had a 70W motor which wasn't bad (my braun juicer had a 60W motor). the motor does a weird thing where it shuts down if it overheats, and only works again after it's cooled down. the reamer doesn't autoreverse, but i read some reviews that said autoreversing is just a gimmick, and a single direction rotating reamer with enough power will very easily juice any citrus. it also had 3162 reviews, 90% of which was 4-5 stars. i noticed the price had gone up within the past few weeks (from $37), but it wasn't worth it to save a few dollars by waiting for the price to come down again, especially since i could get free 1-day shipping and have it delivered by tomorrow.
i rode down to the cafe in the late morning to deliver the orange juice, as well as two containers of tea eggs, 1 jar of korean kimchi, and various jarred condiments for rice porridge which i had in my fridge but never got around to eating. plus i brought samples of norwegian food for my parents to try. my mother was more vocal, but instead of commenting on the norwegian leverpostei or caviar paste, she couldn't get over how hard my ficelle bread was, which sort of ruined the experience for her. she tried one of the tea eggs, said it was okay, but could use some more simmering on low heat to get more flavor into the eggs. i returned home by noontime, quickly ate a tea egg myself (2 days in the brine, already salty enough, but i'll keep on soaking them), before going out again, this time to a harvard lecture at CGIS south: mobilizing without the masses given by diana fu.
the lecture was interesting, but a lot of intellectual speak, which fortunately i was able to follow. the gist of the talk was how chinese labor movements mobilize their workers when common labor tools like strikes are illegal in china. the field research was done in the previous administration of hu jintao, which was more open to labor activities. under the current xi jinping administration (and now that he's abolished term limits, emperor xi jinping) there's not only been a crackdown on labor movements under the authoritarian catch-all of social unrest prevention, but such activities have also been criminalized. unable to mobilize the masses, workers still demonstrate, but as individuals coached by clandestine labor organizers who don't explicitly tell workers to demonstrate (many workers can't, at the very least they lose their jobs, at the very worst they go to prison), but educate them in terms of what rights they should have and present them with examples of successful singular demonstrations in the past. one technique is the use of a "suicide show" where a lone worker threatens to kill himself unless certain work demands are met.
after the lecture i went to market basket to get a few more grocery items, including the unicorn cereal, which i couldn't stop thinking about when i saw it a few days ago. apparently it's a hot item because there was only one box left. the sky got progressively cloudier, big puffy patches of low flying clouds. i also got a container of drain-o max gel which i used on my bathtub drain. i plunged it a week and a half ago, but the past few days it started to clog up again, so i needed to go with a chemical solution now. half a bottle of drain-o was all it took to get the drain working again. i'll plunge it again for good measure within the next few days, after enough time for the drain-o to clear the pipes.
we had solid production the whole morning but by afternoon it dropped due to the increasing clouds. we still made 36.60 kWh today, which is pretty good (it's not every day we can set a record). if we make about 30kWh+ every day, we'll easily produce 1000kWh a month, which equals 1 SREC, which means money in the bank.
i went back to chicken caesar salad for dinner. this time i only used half a grilled chicken breast, and added some onions as well. it was still a pretty big bowl of salad, but i was able to finish it all, unlike the last time. i still have another half piece of chicken left in the fridge, enough for one more salad, but i also have some leftover beef stew, hopefully it hasn't gone bad and i can have that for dinner tomorrow.
didn't leave the house today, the rain had mostly to do with it. the production was only 12.07kWh, the third lowest amount this month. not feeling like salad again, i heated up a spicy jamaican beef patty for dinner, it was okay, nothing memorable. i also discovered 2 old pomegranates in the fridge, cracked them open to eat. i finally finished watching the first episode of season 2 of legion. its quirky weirdness is like a blend of twin peaks with a wes anderson movie. i'm not sure i like it, i have no idea what's going on, but i'll continue to watch.
i ordered a few things off of amazon tonight: a gallon of evaporust rust remover ($19.06), 4-pack neewer 35W 5500K CFL light bulbs (for my DIY lowel ego light) ($14.99), and 4 set of corelle livingware 12oz. bowls ($14.99).