i woke up late, close to 10am, but i knew GC was still home because i could see the kitchen lights through the crack around my bedroom door. he's basically turned the kitchen into his makeshift home office, even leaving his MBP on the dining table when he's not using it. his friend was gone, i'm assuming he left at 8am as planned, all the pillows and sheets stacked neatly on the sofa chair. GC was meeting him for lunch in boston, so it didn't look like he was going to the office today. he did leave at 10:30am, not to the office but into the city to meet up with his friend. the only thing he carried was his kindle.
aretha franklin passes away today. news of her serious condition had been on the news for several days now. in fact, early this morning when i briefly checked the news on my phone, they said she was already in hospice care, and then moments later i read that she was already gone. i knew of her and listened to her songs, but the only two i could remember were RESPECT and the duet she did with george michael.
my upstairs neighbors returned home today. i bumped into paul while he was tidying up the yard for their incoming tenants. he filled me in on some details. the new upstairs neighbors are actually moving in tomorrow. they're already in town, living temporarily in an airbnb waiting for the house to be available. steve and paul came back today to tidy up the house, but the previous tenants had left the place so immaculate, they even cancelled on the cleaning lady scheduled to arrive today. paul said the reason was the romers made heavy use of the air conditioners (one of my few complaints, and they must've seen the electricity bill, thankfully paul and steve hardly ever use the AC), so they never opened the windows, so there was hardly any dust. paul said they were only here for the day, and wasn't spending the night.
they were returning to the island, and their month-long european trip wouldn't begin until mid-october, coming back to cambridge to coincide with their tenants leaving.
i went to market basket to get a few groceries, just enough food for the next 2 days. i bought another watermelon, but didn't pick wisely this time, as when i got home and cut it open there was some hollowness on the inside. hopefully watermelons will remain on sale long enough to give me some practice selecting the best ones.
along the way i saw a figure tossed out with some trash. intrigued, i stopped to check it out. it was a rubber doll, less than a foot tall. the head at deteriorated such that it was partially gone. yet for some reason i could still recognize who it was: the wrestling pose and outlet, the remnants of an afro, all suggested this was none other than andre the giant. when i got home i confirmed my suspicion when i did a google search of "andre giant toy" and came up with some matching results. manufactured by LJN for the WWE , this 1984 toy also came in another variant where andre had shorter hair. i was never much of a wrestling fan growing up, but i must've been exposed to enough of it in the background that decades later i can still recognize the giant when i see him.
i finally managed to download the last episode of condor and watch it. spoilers! i love the show but the conclusion in this season finale was just too convenient and they wrapped it up way too quickly. and they managed to kill even more characters (sharla shepard, marty frost, deacon mailer), so now almost all of the original cast is dead. i'm left with a lot of questions and why the writers introduced so many characters only to have them all die at the end for no good reason? seems kind of sloppy storytelling. i'll still watch season 2 but i'm really worried going forward what more can they do with the show. maybe the CIA comes after joe and he has to exact some kind of revenge, but with his uncle bob in charge, i doubt any harm will come to him. condor reminds me a lot of AMC's rubicon (2010), another show about intelligence analysts. unfortunately that show as cancelled after just one season.
GC came home around 4:30pm. after lunch in chinatown, he waited with his friend at the bus depot until he left at 4pm. i thought maybe he would go back to work but that was not a part of today's equation. instead, another friend invited him out to dinner tonight (since he's leaving next saturday) after playing some badminton. i was in the bathroom around 6pm when he left without saying anything.
for dinner i ate half of a large ham and cheese sub. GC didn't come home until almost 10pm. they had dinner at the chinese restaurant around the corner. after a shower, he retreated to his bedroom and i never saw him again the rest of the night.
GC didn't go to work until 10:30am, taking his time. i woke up at 9am, but was afraid to use the bathroom until he left. in the meantime, a check of my amazon order status showed that my mid-2012 MBP laptop battery already arrived in belmont this morning, the delivery person uploading a photo proof. i also checked my parents' electricity usage status, figuring i needed to call belmont lights this morning to get them to take a look. to my surprise, all the missing data was back again, everything seems to be fixed. i sent belmont lights a courtesy e-mail to let them know things seemed to be working now.
my father sent me some photos of radio repeater controller cables. i wasn't sure why he was sending them to me until i called him to let him know that the usage monitoring was fixed, and he told me he needed a special cable in order to connect the QYT KT-8900 to the simplex repeater. apparently the KT-8900 uses RJ45 jacks instead of RJ12 jacks of the TYT. i still wasn't quite sure of the problem he was describing but told him i'd swing by the cafe to take a look on my way to belmont to pick up the battery.
GC called me via wechat while i was in the bathroom. he never calls so i was wondering what was the emergency that he couldn't just send a text. a friend of his was in town trying to get a chilean visa and he was wondering if he could crash on the couch tonight. though slightly annoyed, i had no real objections, particularly since wangyang and her son lived with us for a week. it was only for one night anyway, and i've had plenty of roommates in the past inviting friends and whatnot. he also reminded me that the apple package for his friend was arriving today. he used the word "soon" but UPS tracking had no granular details when it comes to shipping status, only that the package was out for delivery and could arrive anytime between now and 8pm.
temperature today was in the lower 80's, not that hot compared to some other days, but still warm, particularly since the sun was out for a change. instead of taking the bicycle, i decided on the motorcycle instead, as there was no forecast of rain until the weekend. i went to the cafe first, where only my father was manning the shop, my mother having gone out with my sister's godmother. i gave back my father's baofeng radio which he accidentally left at my place yesterday. i had a feeling what the problem was with the QYT radio, but seeing it in person crystallized it for me. the cable we needed was the surecom 48-T1, but it was sold in a set and we just needed that one cable. my father thought about making his own interface cable but he wasn't sure where the leads from the RJ45 jack connected to the TRS audio jack. my mission was to go online and find a place that sold only that 48-T1 cable.
i also went down to the nearby branch library to pick up some harvard natural history museum passes, in case eliza wanted to go when she visits friday morning. i reserved the passes online, where i discovered the cambridge library has a bunch of other electronic services under the heading of eLibrary. all sorts of magazines, and ebooks, and audio books, and even movies, viewable on apps or on the computer. you can also read the electronic version of the new york times for free (when you use the library wifi), and take advantage of some free online learning resources like lynda.com.
i then went to belmont where the battery package was waiting for me on the doorstep. it was a lot bigger than i expected, and could barely fit inside my messenger bag. i went into the backyard to take a brief look, picking up a cucumber, killing a cucumber beetle, and taking a photo of the solar panels, before i left.
i stopped the cafe again briefly before returning home to wait for the apple package and install the new battery into my 2012 MBP.
honestly, i didn't think the new battery would fix the problem, but it was worth a shot. the power management problem could be one of 4 culprits: a bad battery, a bad charger, a bad operating system software, or a bad logic board. i wanted to eliminate all the known suspects before contacting L2 regarding additional fixes.
installing the new battery was easy because on the 2012 MBP the battery isn't glued to the chassis like it is in subsequent MBP's. i know why apple did this: some say it's to make it so replacing the battery on your own is next to impossible without paying apple to do it, but i think it's to reduce the overall weight, since glued batteries don't have a metal/plastic housing around the soft lithium ion "bricks", making them lighter. in any case, when the new battery went in i was hopeful, because at least the power capacity indicator LED's were working. but when i plugged in the charger, the LED on the plug was green when it should've been amber (indicating charging), and when i removed the plug, the computer immediately went into safe sleep mode. so the new battery had nothing to do with the power management problem. i took out the new battery (to be returned) and put back the old one.
that was all the evidence i needed to sent L2 an e-mail explaining the problems and asking for a solution. they replied back hours later, said they test all their repaired machines beforehand, and asked me to try using a different charger. i didn't like the tone of the e-mail, felt like L2 was blaming me for something they didn't fix completely. i replied back that i'd try visiting an apple store tomorrow and see if they had a compatible charger i could borrow. but i sent them an additional e-mail, elaborating that the problem seems to be logic board issues, since even if i had a faulty charger, that wouldn't explain some other problems, like the machine going to sleep when i unplug the charger.
afterwards i had a late lunch, another goat cheese prosciutto egg english muffin sandwich. if i didn't have to wait for those packages, i would've gone down to the cambridgeside galleria mall apple store already and tested the MBP there. i checked my records: the last time i had something delivered via UPS, it didn't arrive until after 5pm. so betting that history would repeat itself again, i decided to visit the apple store after all, taking the motorcycle to make the trip quicker. i stopped by the prospect street speedway gas station to fill up the tank.
i found a residential parking spot less than a block away from the mall and went inside. the employees at the apple store were very helpful, i thought i needed an appointment, but they accommodated by request readily. one of the guys brought out a compatible charger. with a magical swipe of his hand on the table top, power outlets flipped out from the counter. i plugged it into my MBP and waited for the machine to boot up. afterwards i unclipped the plug and of course the screen immediately went dark. so it's not the charger! all this work just to prove something i already strongly suspected.
with my new evidence, i returned home, penning another message to L2, letting them know i went to the apple store and tried one of their chargers and it still didn't work. the ball was in their court, so to say. i told them i was willing to send back the MBP for the 3rd time, provided they were willing to take a look at it again. the other recourse (which i didn't mention) is for them to return my $130, which at this point i don't think they're making an profit from this transaction, given the amount of time spent repairing and the cost of shipping it back and forth. i'm still waiting for them to reply.
just as i predicted, the apple packages didn't arrive until 5:30pm. i asked the UPS delivery guy if i needed to sign for them, he was actually surprised that i didn't (request from buyer), but he made me sign it anyway as proof of delivery, said typically apple deliveries always require a signature since they're worth a lot of money.
the UPS delivery came at the same time yulia called me. there was nothing wrong with their machine, she just wanted to know how to back up their data manually. over the phone i couldn't remember the exact filepaths, and told her i'd swing by sometime this week to help her out. i also recommended she get a larger external hard drive so they can do automatic time machine backups, western digital is having a sale this week on refurbished 1TB drives for only $30.
my merrell shoe inserts ($8) arrived yesterday. for something that could've easily fit inside an envelope, it was shipped in a very large box. it was a half size too large (they only sell in whole sizes) and the official instruction said to trim them to fit, which is what i did. my hiking shoes are still a little smelly even though they're dry. i can let them air out some more (the stink will disappear over time) but i tried making an activated carbon insert in the hopes of absorbing the funk.
i ended up ordering the surecom 48-T1 cable set for my father ($9.90). i found a few places that sold the cable individually, but they were all based in asia and would take weeks to arrive. i had it sent to belmont, which would arrive on saturday, compared to cambridge, which wouldn't get here until monday. i've discovered a secret in amazon shipping where packages delivered to suburbs arrive days earlier.
for dinner i heated some spinach and cheese ravioli mixed with the remaining jar of tomato sauce. i didn't do any grocery shopping this week but i definitely need to go tomorrow, i'm all out of dinner options.
after the apple packages arrived, i was waiting for GC to return home with his friend. over the phone this morning he said they might come back as early as this afternoon, so i was anxious all day, cleaning up the house a bit for our guest. they ended up not coming home until after 10:30pm. i thought maybe they planned on staying out late in deference to my own late night schedule, but actually, his friend didn't arrive in boston until 8pm.
his friend - a classmate from their graduate school days in nanjing - is actually a few years older but only now finishing his PhD at umass amherst. when GC went to amherst last month, he actually stayed at his place. originally from chengdu, he had an overweight nerdish appearance, with a messy haircut that seemed self-inflicted. he spoke in a such a way that i couldn't quite understand what he was saying - using technical words and chinese names for things i only know in english. it makes me appreciate that when GC speaks to me he's actually using plain chinese, which i understand better. his friend pulled out a box of kleenex from his bag and spent the evening rubbing his nose due to a cold. you should've told me before i shook your diseased hand! (his handshake: soft and clammy). i found out they met at porter square and had japanese noodles for dinner at the porter exchange.
while we were chatting, i discovered GC's boss (whom he shares office with) already went back to alabama; this explains why GC has been going to work so late recently. even his friend remarked, "then why are you still here and not back in alabama?" i also asked his friend about chengdu, which he hasn't gone back in 2 years. apparently he's from the city itself, his old house in the city center (inside ring 1). he seemed critical of his hometown though, said people come for the history, but it doesn't have as much antiquity as some other cities like nanjing. he also said chengdu is a fairly new city, the natives depopulated due to war, and the people now there are all from elsewhere in sichuan. i told him how i visited western sichuan multiple times and he corrected me, said it's actually northwestern sichuan (doesn't sound like he's ever been there).
after the 11pm news, i excused myself and went to my room. GC's friend seems a little slow on the social niceties: i realized i wouldn't be seeing him again (leaving at 8am for the unofficial chilean embassy down at englewood avenue on the C train) and said my good byes and wished him luck doing post-doc work in chile.
i called my father this morning to ask him how the electric meter exchange went. he said the inspector showed up, saw that the meter was still working, and left. i asked him if he showed the inspector that the online usage data has been blank since friday and he didn't. so the meter still isn't working. when i wrote back belmont light, nobody responded. i guess they freaked out because they thought the meter itself was broken; they could care less if we can't see any usage data. the only thing i can do is wait for the meter manager to return from vacation tomorrow and get in touch with him.
the baofeng amplifier arrived in the late morning. my father dropped by in the early afternoon to test it out from my house. the btech (baofeng brand) AMP-V25 VHF (136-174MHz) amplifier ($88) has a very simple function: it takes the low 1-5W power output from a baofeng handheld transceiver (HT) and amplifies it to 20-40W (label says 25-30W). the increased power can provide a longer reach for the typically limited baofeng HT. it worked, using the hanging DBJ-2 antenna, transmitting as high as 30.6W. tranmissions through the cafe simplex repeater sound louder, clearer, with less static. although it can also be configured in a few different ways, it's a one trick pony in that it can only amplify on the 2m band; for the 70cm we'd need to buy a different amplifier. my father picked this one because 2m is the band that works best for what we're doing. he left behind the amplifier (along with the SWR meter) and took back the QYT radio.
we had several bouts of torrential downpours today, on this warm and humid day. i went out to video record the gutters, which don't seem to travel down the down spouts anymore but instead cascade off the gutters from the sides like waterfalls. maybe okay when it's just rain, but come winter they're going to freeze and may damage the house. i told steve about it, told him i'd try to find some local contractors to fix it on the cheap, but so far no luck yet.
i ate the leftover fried chicken for lunch that my father brought over. for dinner i finished the remaining ribs and corn along with a croissant which i heated (the only thing that i was warm). when GC came home in the evening, he spent the entire night in the kitchen, eating and watching videos on my MBP. thank god i replaced all those recessed halogen lights to LED's otherwise it'd cost me a fortune keeping the kitchen lit all night long.
i discovered a new cache of torrents: rutracker.org, a russian forum. i was pointed to it as a good source of music albums after sorting through my mp3 collection and discovering i had missing music. i had to register first (using a junk e-mail) but once i was in - through the help of google translate - i was able to do some insightful searches. i found some obscure albums, and even more amazing, managed to download them without issues (betty boo, dean martin, some kind of wonderful soundtrack). a lot of these are in lossless FLAC format, which i never cared for since with my poor hearing i can't really tell the difference between FLAC and high quality mp3, so i convert them all to mp3's using the free mediahuman audio converter before erasing the FLAC files.
my mid-2012 MBP finally came back again around 3pm this afternoon. i spent all day waiting for it. it was well packaged and took a while to remove from the box. i was nervous to turn it on but it rebooted effortlessly, like a brand new computer. a fresh system was waiting for me to set up. i didn't believe it but those guys at L2 computer really pulled it off! i even told my mother the good news when she called. i was happy but still wary, but confident enough about the repaired MBP that i cracked open the case and reinstalled the secondary 500GB internal hard drive plus swapping the 4GB of RAM back to 8GB. i kept checking to make sure this was actually my original computer and not just a replacement. i then plugged it in and restarted the machine and everything went to hell again.
a lot of the symptoms from before came back: it wouldn't restart, the battery capacity display wouldn't turn off, the power cord LED was green when it should be amber (for charging), the power status wrong (running off of battery when it should be running off the power supply), and the bottom of the laptop turned hot. i ended up pulling out the RAM and replacing the original 4GB memories, which seemed to be better, but later removed the 500GB secondary drive as well, just to revert the machine back to the way it was before. L2 did fix the rebooting problem and it now reboots fine, but there's something wrong with the power management. sometimes it says the battery was zero, other times it said the battery was 75%. the external capacity indicator wouldn't turn off, and sometimes gave the wrong capacity. and it may or may not be charging the battery, since the power cord LED only glows green, but i did manage to get it to glow amber just one time and managed to charge the battery up to 100%. so it could be a bunch of issues. the charger itself was one suspect, but the machine won't reboot from the battery now (even if the battery is full charged) so it's more of a battery/power management issue.
i ran the apple hardware test (D-key on reboot, my very first time using those mode), which initially gave me an error code of 4SNS/ICOR (optical drive, which is normal, i don't have an internal optical drive anyway), but all subsequent tests gave me 4BAT as the error. i worked on this problem for several hours, but finally decided to buy a new replacement battery (which is easy to swap out) and see what happens: a HUSAN brand A1382 battery 7200mAh/77.5Wh for $60 (168 customer reviews, all 5-stars, A rating from fakespot), scheduled to arrive in belmont on wednesday (it wouldn't arrive until thursday if i had it shipped to cambridge).
if the new battery works, great, if it doesn't, then i'll need to contact L2 and see what they say. would they fix it again for the 3rd time? sending back the laptop is no big deal, and a working MBP beats a dead MBP any day, even if i have to spend another $12-15 to ship to back to NY. but at this point i wonder if it's even economical for them to try fixing it again. but it's either that or return my money.
later in the evening i managed to boot up the old MBP from battery. it booted fine, superfast from the SSD into the desktop. when i closed the lid to put the machine into sleep, it didn't like that, refusing to wake up. the battery capacity indicator strip was also all aglow and wouldn't turn off. i only managed to get it to wake when i plugged in the power cord. but the battery capacity still wouldn't turn off and remained on while the mac was sleeping. it only turned off when i shut down the machine. i really hope it's just the battery. the alternative - shipping it back to L2 for a 3rd repair - is doable but more of a hassle.
the MBP wasn't the only thing broken today; i discovered the electricity meter at my parents' place is acting funny, hasn't recorded any data since friday. occasionally the smarthub data gets glitchy, but i've never seen it not report for this long before. i called belmont light this morning but the receptionist told me their meter manager wouldn't be in until wednesday. so i wrote their customer service department an e-mail, which turned out to be the same woman in charge, and she wrote back saying that she didn't know how serious the problem was, and said they could send out a meter inspector this afternoon at 1pm to replace the meter. unfortunately i had to wait for my MBP, so i asked to schedule for 8am tomorrow morning.
my parents and my sister's godmother came by my place around noontime. they were all going to market basket but dropped by so i could sync up my sister's godmother's new xiaomi band 2 (which i got her while she was working on the west coast) with her xiaomi phone. my mother also wanted my help in transferring my parents' home owner insurance payments from one credit card to another, but i told her the premiums weren't due until another month and we had plenty of time to make the chance (like next weekend).
for lunch i made an english muffin sandwich stuffed with a fried egg (sizzled in butter), a spread of goat cheese, slices of prosciutto, and a sprinkle of furikake. the japanese seasoning was the wrong way to go but the goat cheese was a nice addition. for dinner (before GC came home) i ate half the ribs and corn from last night's barbecue, saving the rest for tomorrow. i also ate a white peach and finished some leftover cherries.
i woke up late, around 9:20am. of course GC was sleeping late as well, since his wake schedule seems to match mine for some reason. or maybe he forgot today is a friday. when i went to use the bathroom i found drops of urine on the tiles. GC just can't help himself. it's not like he wants to pee on the floor, but he's unable to process why it's a bad thing. he's only here for about 2 more weeks though, no point in starting up that awkward conversation again.
i noticed that my new used late-2013 MBP still feels slightly warm even when i put it into sleep mode. i found out the culprit was that i enabled power nap, which allows background updates and maintenance even when the machine is sleeping. i turned it off, hopefully this will keep my mac cooler.
my trek utility bike has been running with loose brakes for a while now, but it's gotten to the point where it's dangerous and even stopping flintstone style with my feet don't seem to work anymore. i finally took the time to adjust the brakes. the back brakes seem okay, but the front brakes don't catch at all, so i tightened them a bit. the entire bike could use an overhaul, replace all the cabling and change out some aging parts like the derailleur and the front rim that's beginning to crack. the backyard mosquitoes are something fierce, and i managed to get 2 bites on the back of my neck and killed 4 mosquitoes.
i paid a visit to the community garden in the afternoon. not to water since it rained a lot yesterday and will rain throughout the weekend; more just to check on the status and pick off any ripening fruits. i left with a bag of medium tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and eggplants.
afterwards i went to market basket to get some groceries. i planned on getting a large watermelon so i brought my bungie cord netting to strap the melon to the back of my rear rack. since the watermelon was still cold, i decided to divide it up, saving half while reducing the rest into cubes. i picked a good watermelon this time, completely solid and crisp.
i did a load of laundry and threw it into the dryer before i took a shower. this gave me a chance to get rid of the stink off the clothes i washed a week ago but left the wet clothes in the washer for too long. this time they came out smelling clean.
L2 computer sent me e-mail that they had shipped back my 2012 MBP. the e-mail wasn't specific with the status but i'm assuming they managed to fix the motherboard the 2nd time around, otherwise they would've either contacted me regarding a replacement or additional repair work or simply returned my money under their repair guarantee. it's been 9 days since i shipped out the laptop. if it's truly fixed, i plan on donating the repaired macbook pro to my father.
for dinner i heated up half a jar of classico tomato sauce combined with a package of frozen spinach and cheese italian raviolis. pasta is just so filling, i didn't feel like snacking afterwards like i sometimes get. GC came home around 9pm. he and his coworkers went out to dinner in honor of a tsinghua associate professor who was back in town attending a conference. i brought out a tray of watermelon while we watched a few season 2 episodes of better call saul on netflix.
i noticed it when i woke up briefly in the early morning to use the bathroom. the toilet was completely silent after i flushed it. normally there's a loud hissing sound as the tank gets refilled but i heard nothing. too early to do anything about it, i went back to bed. when i woke up proper hours later, i opened up the tank to investigate. after a flush, the tank was nearly empty, filling up at just a trickle. something was wrong with the fill valve.
the one that i have is the hydroclean 660, which i installed back in 2009 when my previous fill valve broke. it features an extensible tube that snakes around the bottom edge of the tank, squirting out jets of water to churn any accumulated debris on the bottom to keep the tank clean. at first i thought maybe there was a blockage in the j-tube. it took some effort to remove (after all these years the rubber tubing has hardened) but once i did, i noticed that the inflow was still weak.
GC was already finished with the bathroom. before he left for work, he casually mentioned that he shattered one of my glass tumblers. i use to have a bunch of those, but they're delicate and prone to breaking if you're not careful. this particular tumbler was GC's dedicated drinking cup, which he always left on the countertop and never washed so it was covered in fingerprints. this tumbler, plus the crack in my 1950's ceramic bowl, and him almost losing the drainage cup attachment on my rice cooker, i just hope he doesn't destroy anything else before he leaves.
i continued working on the toilet. toilets aren't difficult o repair, there are only so many parts, all of which can be easily replaced. i'm hoping in my lifetime someday i can replace an entire toilet, because even that doesn't seem very difficult. anyway, i began draining the tank, using a sponge to soak up the remaining water. i unscrewed the water inlet connector, figuring there might be a blockage there. but when i turned the water back on and drained it into a bowl, the pressure seemed fine. which meant the fill valve column itself was the problem. i shouldn't be surprised: early last year i was already noticing the fill valve acting weird.
i removed the fill valve and inspected it in the sink. nothing seemed to be blocked from what i can gather, but the whole unit seems to be built in a way that doesn't allow easy disassembly. besides, a new valve only costs $10, so it wasn't worth trying to fix. i put the valve back into the tank and reassembled everything. the flow was still a trickle, but i pumped the valve a few times and got the flow rate to increase to the point where it was splashing water out of the tank, but after that it went back to just a trickle.
i left the house at 10:30am and rode the motorcycle to the somerville home depot. that turned out to be a mistake. going to HD was easy; coming back turned out to be a congestion nightmare. it only took me a few minutes to find the replacement fill valve ($10) and check out with self-pay. that stretch of grand union boulevard (formerly ikea way) that goes beneath I-93 is a nightmare. the lights change too quickly, cars are making left and right turns, and the exit 29 offramp loads into this area as well. i must've spent 20 minutes just sitting there, inching my way forward. once i passed that, there was traffic in union square due to the ongoing GLX project, so inbound there's only one lane of traffic as cars get caught in the intersection when the lights change, creating further congestion. in the future: avoid this area at all cost! i finally got home an hour later, in what should've taken me half an hour.
for the most part, the new and old hydroclean 660 looked the same. the only real difference was the j-tube. in the new version, it wasn't extensible anymore. the modified instructions said you could cut it to length, but the end of the tube has a special cutaway to attach to the file valve column, so i'm not sure where you could shorten the tubing. after installing the new hydroclean, i took it out again to swap out the j-tube and the overflow tube (the new one is too long, the older one is just the right length). the toilet now worked just like before, with that familiar hissing noise of the tank refilling.
the rest of the day i stayed indoors. at some point i stepped on a piece of glass. it was only a small piece, but those are the worst because they're the hardest to remove. with my poor eyesight and the glass at a weird angle on the bottom of my foot, it was difficult to see. i finally managed to pull it out with some tweezers, but it still hurts when i walk on it, so maybe there's still a little bit of glass. it doesn't hurt however when i pressed down on the spot, which suggests the pain is from the small fissure itself. thanks GC! break my glassware, give me a glass splinter!
since i was on a watery kick today, i decided to clean the aquarium as well. the last time i cleaned was back in mid-june, so it's been almost 2 months, long overdue. the filter's so gunked up the circulation is on the slow side, giving the algae a good environment to blossom combined with the summer heat. algae is only forming on the glass though, and not on the live plants, which means it's easier to clean. if i did more frequent water changes there wouldn't be so much algae. i also changed the activated carbon. my java ferns are growing, but slowly. far better than what it was like before i added the fish, when everything was covered in algae. how can i get these ferns to grow faster?
the yogurt i had for lunch wasn't enough, as i ended up heating some pizza rolls in the late afternoon. GC told me he was going to play badminton after work so i expected him to return late. for dinner, i heated up a brick of stouffer's lasagna. there's still enough frozen and canned food in the house to last me a week without needing to visit the supermarket. GC came home around 9pm. unlike last time, they didn't grab dinner afterwards, and he cooked up some frozen dumplings for dinner.
my legs felt just as stiff and as painful as yesterday as i rocked myself out of bed, unable to bend below the waist without hurting. i frankenstein monsterwalk out of the bedroom and waited for my roommate to leave for work. john was sending me text and photos from his last day in the white mountains; he decided to climb the hi cannon trail, which features ladders. it sounded like fun, but i wouldn't have been able to tackle the rock scrambles, not with my legs in such poor shape.
i took two ibuprofens which gave me some limited mobility but the pain was still there. i weighed myself, thinking i'd lost some weight from all that hiking, but i actually gained weight. after a bowl of chicken sausage oatmeal for lunch, i went out to return my parents' car, stopping by the gas station first to fill up the tank. there was a promise of rain later in the afternoon and evening, so i didn't bother watering the garden, though i did inspect some of the cucumber flowers for beetles.
my return trip was on a bike, which felt like deja vu because i must've done this before. i couldn't bend my knees without hurt, and here i was pedaling my way home. i rode gently, overcoming not only the aches but also the intense heat and humidity. i stopped by the cafe briefly to give my parents a report of my hiking trip, then continued home. by that point i felt a few raindrops and decided to put the bike away in the basement.
it was just too hot to do anything. my plans of getting some groceries and cleaning the fish tank were all postponed. the only thing i did was to wash my hiking shoes as they smelled something terrible after 2 days of hiking.
somerville road crew were digging up the end of my street, in the neverending construction that is the beacon street bike path. ever since the cycle track was installed, there's been a bunch of drainage issues. i noticed it last week after a rainstorm that it'd stopped draining. they blocked the road, which caused a congestion in front of my house as confused drivers tried to make sense of the detour. by the late afternoon the repair was finished, a large new rectangular layer of mismatched asphalt the only sign that something happened.
GC returned home around 6:45pm. his dinner was thankfully odor free, just a simple stirfry of beef, eggs, and tomatoes. for my own dinner i heated up a frozen box of stouffer's stuffed bell peppers in the microwave. i finished watching avengers infinity war, which was well-made but super depressing, but i already knew the ending so it didn't come as a shock. afterwards i started watching disobedience (2017), that rachel weisz and rachel mcadams film, inspired after seeing so many orthodox jews vacationing in the white mountains.
i began my trip home by 2:30pm, after rifling through my stacks of homemade mix CD's and setting up the garmin GPS for a route back to cambridge. the estimate arrival time was 4:40pm, not bad, but i was afraid of hitting some traffic even though i was driving in the opposite direction of rush hour congestion. there was definitely more cars compared to when i came up early monday morning. driving 93 south seems like a non-stop series of leapfrog, passing one slow car after another. the closer i got to boston, the more cars there were, but i was never stuck in traffic. i got nervous and got off at exit 32 (medford center), even though the GPS told me to take 31. i just got back onto the highway and took the next exit. i didn't finally get home until 5pm.
i've found that the best feeling of any trip is coming home. being able to relax, recuperate, the familiar, all that's good. the house was empty but there was a faint fishy smell. i stripped out of my dirty clothes and took a hot shower. that also gave me a chance to evaluate where exactly on my legs was i hurting. so pretty much on the top of my thighs and my calves. i also had a small contusion on the inner arch of my left foot that i got on monday when i misstepped and crunched down into a small notch pressing my arch into a rock. it didn't hurt, but it looked more serious than it actually was. i also had a bruise on my left knee, not sure how i got that, maybe from kneeling down to take a photo and landing on it wrong. my toes were also a little sore, but the aches were minor compared to some of the other pains. my arms at the shoulders were also a little sensitive, maybe from carrying the backpack and the camera.
john went back to flume gorge. the threat of rain meant a lot of tourists stayed away so there weren't as many people as earlier. he got some great photos, it's definitely worth visiting despite the $16 admission fee (consider it a maintenance charge) and the potential for crowds of people.
GC came home in the evening and made what i thought was fish again but he was stewing his beef chunks which takes hours. i had some ramen for dinner, simple and delicious. i spent the rest of the night sorting through my photos. if you asked me after the hike if i ever wanted to come back to the white mountains, i would've told you no, but after looking at the photos, i would definitely do the franconia ridge trail again. if nothing else, then at least to take better photos, as i found most of my photos didn't quite capture what it's like to be walking along the ridge.