today was one of those rare days when i didn't take any photos. it's important on days like this to document what i did because otherwise without photos it's easy to forget. fortunately i didn't do too much today, just basically stayed home.
i thought about paying a visit to haymarket with the temperature relatively warm in the upper 40's, but there was still snow pack in the bike lanes so i thought it'd be safer not to go. i also thought about the coronavirus, and was thinking about going to chinatown to get some supplies, but going anywhere where you're likely to be in contact with a lot of chinese is a risky proposition these days. i also thought about fixing my bike brakes (they're starting to lose their grip again) but it slipped my mind as the day wore on and i became engrossed in the impeachment trial coverage.
the one good thing about today was kevin left early again, before 9am. when i realized he was gone, i 1) turned down the heat, and 2) went back to sleep, not waking up until 10am. i was afraid he'd pulled another trifecta this morning, but the lights were off, the door was locked, and the bathroom didn't smell as bad as yesterday.
on my webcam i saw my parents at the cafe. later my 2nd aunt showed up and i saw my mother give her some stuff she'd bought from taiwan. i never got my parking permit renewal letter so i went to the city website and renewed that way, $25 plus 40¢ convenience fee because i used my bank account to pay. our SREC trader sent us notice that 3 of our SREC points were sold today at $292.95 a share (these are SREC's we made for july-august-september's solar production). i bought a pair of converse sneakers ($35, canvas converse lucky star in surplus olive), ordered a bottle of hot honey from amazon ($6.64, i heard it'll replace sriracha as the latest trendy condiment), and bought another xiaomi mi band 4 ($25, gearbest, either give it to my mother or father, it takes a few weeks to arrive from china, especially during chinese new year).
for lunch some more scrambled eggs and kielbasa sausage. i like to add some parmesan cheese to my eggs for additional flavor, but i brought the cheese to my parents' place yesterday. i did have an old block of hard parmesan, which i grated enough (with difficulties) to sprinkle on my cheese.
i drank a lot of hot tea today, found a stash of loose jasmine tea which i put in a tea ball. i followed the impeachment trial, but listened to it on the radio instead of watching it on tv, made it easier to follow while i surfed the web on my computer.
kevin came home early, a few minutes before 5pm. it annoyed me at first (i prefer roommates who come home late), but later he came out and paid next month's rent a day in advance, in cash no less. a month of kevin went by pretty fast, as often the case with winter months. before i know it it'll be may: kevin will be gone and i'll be slightly richer from 5 months of rent. he cooked in the kitchen for an hour (shells) then disappeared into his bedroom by 6pm. i didn't see much of him after that.
i chatted with WWY, who was at her grandmother's house in the rural changshou village of honghu for the first day of chinese new year. she said the worldwide coronavirus infected list had surpassed 1000 cases, which i knew because i'd been following the news religiously on the web (john hopkins map coronavirus map has a slicker interface but the chinese site kevin sent me has more detailed info down to the district level). she was angry with the hubei government for not reporting the wuhan outbreak earlier, and by the time they did, the virus had already spread. now they have to rely on the central government for help. she also heard a rumor that trains from hubei were still arriving at chongqing (the two provinces are neighbors) because the mayor of chongqing city used to be the mayor of wuhan as well. she also said the virus has created paranoia amongst the locals, that if she knew somebody was from hubei province or wuhan city, she would avoid them and report them to the police.
i heated up my final slice of quiche for dinner. i still have one or two bricks of leftover lasagna in the fridge (i should probably freeze them) for early next week. not sure yet what i want to make for later in the week, i'm thinking my spicy mexican chicken soup with israeli couscous, haven't made that in a while, give kevin something interesting to try out. i wonder if he thinks i'm this great cook, when in fact i only just really know these few handful of recipes that i make over and over again.
kevin left by around 9am this morning. the kitchen lights were on, the front door was unlocked, and the toilet smelled of urine, a trifecta of annoyances. at least he left for work at a reasonable hour, leaving me the house for a few hours.
my webhost upgraded all the php servers to 7.2. up until now i'd been using 5.6, and they warned me months ago that my code could potentially break. sure enough, this blog wasn't loading. the admin page were still fine, there was just something wrong on the index side. i opened up the code and did a bit of debugging before i found out what it was. i have a bunch of conditions on my main page that diverts you to a different location if it detects certain conditions. those are all legacy code stuff, more than 15 years old at least, i just commented them all out and my blog was working again.
after some scrambled eggs and kielbasa for lunch i biked down to the cafe to set up the xiaomi mi band 4 for my aunt. after i sync'ed it to her phone, it took some time to update the firmware, before it was finally ready to wear. because my aunt's phone is set to chinese language, i noticed the mi band 4 was also in chinese as well. i changed the face to the same as mine, my aunt liked the colors and more displayed data. she was pleasantly surprised it had weather and could receive notifications, like phone calls and texts (i called her to test, my name showed up on her mi band). i took her mi band 2: it still works, just the screen is really dim. once you've experienced the mi band 4, there's no going back. before i left my aunt gave me a red envelope stuffed with cash for new year.
i rode to belmont where i waited until the evening to pick up my parents from the airport. i bumped into jack on huron avenue, taking his daily walk. he told me he and bruce were going on a cruise trip to the arctic in april.
in belmont i turned up the heat, deactivated some lamp timers, and plugged in the heated toilet seat. my sister came home with hailey. she made some dinner but because she prepared them so early, they were guaranteed to be cold by the time my parents came back. my sister left by 5pm to nanny some kids for a few hours. i kept remotely checking the router's client list back at home and saw that kevin was already back by 5pm, so i turned on the heat. the original arrival time for my parents was 5:10pm, but there was an hour long delay in tokyo for flight JL8, so the plane wouldn't arrive until 6pm. after feeding hailey her dinner at 5:30pm, i anxiously got in the car and drove down to logan airport.
there was traffic in cambridge getting onto the turnpike, but the traffic flow on the turnpike inbound was pretty steady. as we approached boston, past fenway, there was a bit of a slow moving jam. entering the ted williams tunnel there was another jam, as several lanes of entering cars merged in from the right. typically i get to logan via the sumner tunnel, so this was new to me. i also memorized directions to get to the cell phone lot, though the few signs that i saw definitely helped. the lot wasn't too crowded, there was plenty of parking. my father finally called me at 6:26pm to tell me they were already waiting on the curb outside terminal E.
usually i go all the way around the entire airport just to get to terminal E, but that terminal is right next to the cell phone lot, and i've done it once in the past, where there's a shortcut that takes me directly to that terminal. i looked it up beforehand and memorized the route, it's definitely a shortcut because i didn't see anyone else taking it. in a few minutes i was outside the terminal and i flashed the lights when i saw my parents. we loaded all their luggage into the back of the car as my father drove us back to belmont.
we finally got back by 7:20pm. hailey came out to the door to greet my parents. since my sister wouldn't be back until after 8pm, we decided to eat without her. it didn't matter much anyway since all the food was cold but my mother warmed up the rice before we ate. it wasn't very good, i just had some cold eggplant with my rice porridge. i'd also brought along some meatball sub ingredients, i think that would've made a better meal.
later when my sister returned, my parents began to unpack their suitcases: 2 large and 2 small, all heavy enough that i'm surprised they didn't get fined for exceeding the weight limit. a lot of that weight was all the food they brought back, some for my sister, some for me, and a lot for my aunt who tasked me mother to get her the special taiwanese confections she wanted. my sister left before i did, i finally left by 9:30pm, riding my bike back to cambridge.
i didn't get home until almost 10pm. even though i turned up the heat to 68°F, because kevin didn't come into the living room, the nest thermostat thought nobody was home and turned off the heat. by the time i got back, the room temperature had dropped to 63°F. kevin was home in his bedroom. he came out later to ask me if i ever had problems buying stuff from ebay, because he tried to buy a $3 item and ebay gave him a warning that said he exceded his buy limit, an error i'd never seen before. maybe because he was a chinese national they thought it was a fake account and put it on temporary hold. kevin also asked if he could the rent through paypal. i said it might be okay but i wasn't sure if there was a fee. i told him i still prefer cash. we were catching up on the latest coronavirus news, he told me he went to the porter square CVS today and got his flu shot.
i was up by 8:20am, disturbed by the loud banging coming from upstairs. i'm grown used to the noises, but these were especially loud and especially violent, enough to shake the house. i texted both steve and paul, asking them politely if everything was okay, which is the indirect way of saying, "you're being too loud, please be quiet." steve said he wasn't home, so i rang their doorbell and saw paul coming down the stairs. he told me a crew were removing the carpet from their house. it would've been nice if they started later, or at least told me in advance. "how long will it take?" i asked. "at least a few hours," he answered, without a hint of awareness the amount of noise it was making downstairs. i didn't say anything after that, no use reasoning with asshole neighbors. fortunately the sounds soon stopped as the work continued onto the 3rd floor.
every night i adjust the thermostat schedule, trying to figure out when kevin will wake up. this morning it was set to 8am to 9am, but kevin didn't get out of bed until after 9am. i of course wanted to use the bathroom and take a shower, but figured i'd wait until he left. when he didn't seem to be any hurry to go to the office, i decided to pay a quick visit to market basket around 9:40am, where i needed boxes of kleenex (kevin seemed to have exhausted the one in the kitchen around) and heavy duty aluminum foil (to wrap the stove top surface which are now entirely burnt from the drips and leaks of kevin's amateur cooking). even though it was supposed to warm up slightly today, it was still cold this morning (24°F) as i arrived at the supermarket with my face covered in tears, a natural eye reaction from riding in the frigid temperature. i came back half an hour later at 10:10am, where i ran into kevin in the foyer, finally leaving for work.
i went back to belmont, because i'd forgotten that monday was martin luther king jr. day, so pick-up would be delayed a day. however when i got there, i saw all the other neighbors along the street had their garbage out as well. either they all forgot that monday was a holiday, got tricked into putting out their garbage when they saw i'd already done the same, or perhaps trash pick-up was in fact today. either way, nobody came to collect the trash by the time i left so i wheeled the bin back to the side of the house.
putting away the trash bin was the main reason why i was there. i also started the car and drove it around the block just to make sure it was still working. i then checked the bird feeder (saw some house finches feeding), the solar panels, the furnace (there was already water in the catch bin, after so many weeks where there was just nothing), and the grow room.
i sprayed the thai basil but wiped clean with insecticidal soap-soaked napkins the pepper and ficus leaves. i think the pepper can be salvaged if someone manually clean the aphids off the leaves every day. the ficus, i'm not so sure. there's sticky residue on the leaves, but i didn't see any aphids, not sure where it's coming from. i also watered the terracotta-potted jasmine with Bti-infused water because it looked dry, along with the hot pepper plant (because it seems to have the most gnats) and rosemary (planted in a mostly dry peat moss blend). i'm only a week since the last soil drench, i'll give it until this weekend before i do a 3rd round.
i left belmont by 11:45am. instead of going home i went to the cafe instead, where i've decided to give my 2nd aunt the mi band 4. originally i bought it for my father, but my aunt would use it more. besides, it'd replace her current mi band 2, which has a faulty screen so dim you pretty much can't see anything even though it still works. i tried to set it up but discovered the mi band 4 had discharged completely, so i needed to charge it up first. i told my aunt i'd come back tomorrow. she gave me a container of curry rice noodles for lunch.
i'd already missed my usual 12pm WCVB channel 5 news broadcast, so instead i turned to the news on WHDH channel 7 while i ate. ever since they lost their NBC affiliation, WHDH has been a shell of its former self. it has nothing to offer but a few syndicated shows and its news broadcast. taking a page from fox news, it seems to hire most young and attractive women.
i watched a bit of the impeachment trial around 1pm. it works better if you just listen to it on radio since there really isn't much to watch on tv. it's also kind of boring, reiterating everything i already knew. today was actually the first day of the trial itself, yesterday was just debates to hash out the senate rules. i think most people have already made up their mind whether trump is guilty or not. this is all for show, though one for the sake of posterity. the moment a democrat administration takes office, they'll open up the secret servers and all of trump's wrongdoings will be exposed. when that moment comes, history will judge those who sided with a criminal president instead of voting with their conscience.
so it finally happened: the chinese government has decided to quarantine the city of wuhan. you can't exactly form a blockade around a population of 11 million, but the government has temporarily stopped all bus/train/subway services as well as planes and ferries. i was texting WWY about it last night, she seemed to be freaking out over this new coronavirus, while i was making light of it, said she should try to get the virus so she can build up an immunity against it. she told me there was 5 cases in chongqing city, and 1 case in our old town of changshou.
i thought we'd have a new production record for 2020 given how clear and sunny the sky was today, so i was surprised when we didn't even manage to break 6kW. so maybe it wasn't that clear after all, maybe a touch of milkiness to an otherwise cloudless sky. nevertheless, we still managed to break 30kWh+ with a final production of 31.61kWh. jan.17th's record production still stands. out of curiosity, i pulled the highest production we made from last year (jun.32019 55.19kWh) and superimposed it onto the graph, just to see potentially how much more electricity we can expect to generate.
kevin came home at 5:15pm, early by his usual schedule. he rushed in and said he was going out. i thought maybe to have dinner with friends, but he went he was just going out to star market (i wouldn't consider that going out). he bought two large bag of groceries along with a gallon of 1% milk. i didn't see him making dinner, later i found half a mini pot pie in the fridge, he must've ate that.
kevin took a shower today, his schedule seems to be every 3 days or so. for some strange reason whenever he showers, i can actually smell whatever body wash/shampoo he's using through the bathroom door even though i'm in the living room. i think he just uses a lot of it. i think he made a mistake and bought conditioner instead of body wash, but he uses like an inch of conditioner with every wash, leaving the bathtub a slippery mess afterwards.
at 8:45pm i heard the washer running. today's wednesday, it was just last friday that he already did a load of laundry. i asked him if he washes his clothes everyday back in china, he said it depends: as soon as his hamper is a third full, that's when does his laundry. granted, he doesn't have a lot of clothes, but doing a wash every 5 days is a bit excessive. i can't wait to see my electricity and water bill for this month.
for dinner i heated up two slices of quiche, even though one slice would've been plenty. i'm picking up my parents from the airport tomorrow right during rush hour (5:10pm), i'm bringing the rest of my meatball sub ingredients to their place in case they're hungry afterwards.
finally, several passengers from wuhan onboard a hong kong flight to logan airport were evaluated for possible coronavirus exposure. could boston be the next US city to have a case of the wuhan coronavirus?
for some strange reason kevin always seems to wake up and need to use the bathroom whenever i'm already in there. i woke up around 9am this morning and waited for him to get up until i couldn't wait any longer and went to go use the bathroom. right at that moment - 9:50am - that's when i heard kevin coming out of his bedroom and jostling the locked bathroom door handle. i quickly finished up, spraying a little courtesy air freshener before i departed. a few seconds later i heard kevin going into the bathroom, didn't even wait for the air to dissipate, guess he was in a real hurry, glad i could keep the seat warm for him.
today was a rare occasion where i ended up leaving earlier than kevin. once more i waited for him to leave until i couldn't wait any longer and left by 11am for belmont.
i was bringing the luxauto grow light for testing but my main reason for going was to refill the bird feeder, which i could see from the webcam it was running empty.
BRING IN THE MAIL: neighbors could probably tell my parents haven't been home in weeks judging from the unmoved cars in the driveway, but the one person who can always tell if someone's home or not is the mail carrier. but the fact that the mail gets collected every few days at least let them know that somebody was still checking up on the house.
CHECK SOLAR PANELS: based on production alone i knew the panels were cleared, but i just wanted to see for myself, haven't laid eyes on it since early sunday morning, when there was still bits of snow on the panels. all the snow on the roof had melted with the except of the gap between the main roof and the sunroom roof. i saw our opposite door neighbors, their panels had automatically cleared from the steeper angle of their roof.
REFILL BIRD FEEDER: i like to give the outer shroud a wash with soapy warm water but for the most part it's been clean. 2 of the 3 seed columns were empty, the 3rd had that clumping issue because some big dried berries had jammed the chute opening. there was nothing left but crumbs and dust in the seed bag so i just dumped it all in the backyard for ground feeders. instead i opened a new bag, which was still old. when i have time i should pay a visit to OSJL to get fresh bird seeds. the ones that i have were leftovers from one of my sister's nanny care who was getting rid of their bird feed supply. it's old enough that some of the seeds have started to turn to dust, which may be a sign of bug infestation but i didn't see anything.
REFILL BIRD BATHS: i also like to refill the bird baths when i have the chance. not much good it'll do because the water will turn to ice in this below freezing temperature, but until that happens the bird will have a temporary source of water, which is hard to come by during the winter.
CHECK ELECTRONIC MOUSETRAP: thankfully there was no mouse in the electronic mousetrap. it wasn't blinking but i checked manually just to be sure. the dead mouse i left in the yard was still there (i just wish we had some critters in the backyard that would eat the dead mice), so i scooped it up and tossed it in the trash.
THROW OUT THE TRASH: since trash collection is tomorrow, i threw out the bag of trash along with some dead dried flowers. not sure what the town bylaw is regarding bringing out the trash so early, but i'm come back tomorrow and bring in the bin.
CHECK SOLAREDGE INVERTER: i check the inverter whenever i can, to make sure all 24 panels are activated (24/24) and to get a quick peek of the current production. it said 6.52kW but i didn't see those numbers on the graph. either the actual production is a bit lower after the electricity gets inverted, or it actually did reach 6.52kW but only briefly, with the average being lower.
CHECK HEATING OIL LEVEL: the heating oil is now down to nearly 5/8th in the time that my parents have been gone. i don't know if it's normal or not, to me it still seems to be usually up a lot of fuel even though the thermostat is turned down low and there's nobody in the house.
CHECK RADIATOR WATER OVERFLOW BIN: this is the first time i found water in the bin, all other times it's been dry. not sure why that is, maybe the cold snap had the heater running more than usual, generating excess water. i dumped it in the basement sink.
i finally made it down to the grow room. not much has changes since my last visit on sunday. there were still a few fungus gnats flying around. i couldn't find a place to hang the luxauto light, until i moved the led shop light so i could have the luxauto from the ceiling pipe.
when i plugged in the luxauto 1000W grow light, the first thing i noticed immediately was it wasn't as bright as when i turned it on in my own house. that's because the walls of my house are painted in bright near-fluorescent colors which seem like they're exploding when struck with blurple lights. under normal circumstances, it seems to emit just as much light as the other grow lights. the light cast was more focused due to the reflectors, but i couldn't tell if it was any brighter comparison wise. i had it in a smart plug so i could read the wattage: bloom (red) 53.5W, vegetative (purple-blue) 108W, combo 154W - which more or less follows the specified wattage of 160W. there isn't a lot of room in the grow space to accomodate another led grow light. i'll need to discuss it with my father when he gets back. we're still maybe 2 months ago at least from starting any seedlings.
CHECK YELLOW STICKY TRAPS: the thai chili pepper plant seems to have the most fungus gnats. maybe i shouldn't be surprised because instead of potting soil it's actually planted in garden compost, which is full of organic material larvae like to feed on. the long scallions/chives pots have a good amount of gnats as well, but greatly reduced compared to how it was before.
i left by 12:30pm, going straight home, hoping to catch the start of the senate impeachment trial happening at 1pm. nearly home, i passed by a guy who looked like kevin, walking with some girl. instead of scrambled eggs and kielbasa, i had a bowl of salad for lunch. i ran out of russian dressing so used italian dressing instead, just as good.
i watched the start of the senate impeachment trial - which i'd later learn was just the prelude, the debate before the trial itself which actually begins tomorrow.
today we surpassed the year-to-date production from 2019: 357.75kWh last year (up to january 21st), 371.52kWh this year (2020), for an increase of 103.85% (13.78kWh extra). with today's production, we now only need to average 17.8kWh of electricity per day to break january 2019's record. we didn't break 30kWh+ today, which was surprising, given how sunny and clear it was for the first half of the day. but by noontime it started to get cloudy, with more clouds as the afternoon progressed, which managed to clip our generation. tomorrow is another sunny day, i'm hoping we can achieve maximum production.
spinach ham quiche
flour (coating dish)
10 oz. frozen spinach
8oz. diced ham
fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup white wine
15 oz. ricotta cheese
8 oz. mozzarella
2 oz. parmesan
2 oz. gorgonzola blue cheese
defrost frozen spinach in the morning. prebake oven 350°F; cook onion, spinach, ham, and spices then mix into cheese & egg blend. spoon into pie crust, bake for 40 minutes.
i started making my quiche around 5:30pm, hoping to get it in the oven by 6pm so it'd be ready to eat by 7pm. this time i added some white wine to the recipe, i couldn't really taste it, more for show. kevin came home right when the quiche was cooling. i told him yesterday i'd be making quiche, i told him he could have as much as he wanted, he ended up only eating a single slice.
i told kevin i might've seen him today, which he confirmed. he was going with a coworker to porter exchange (he called it lesley university) to have lunch at one of the japanese shops there. so i wonder if he even did any work today, going to the office around noontime, taking a long 2 hour long.
kevin went to sleep late last night, i was already in bed (12am) when he finally signed off (1am). i got out of bed just to make sure everything was okay. it kind of sucks when you can't trust your roommate to use the bathroom without making a mess, but it's happened more than once (peeing on the floor, leaving shower running, leaving bathroom light on), so my confidence in him is at a low.
kevin woke up at 7am, i heard him in the kitchen, so i turned on the heat. he left by 8am (according to router client list). i turned the heat back down before returning to sleep, but at 8:30am the scheduled heat started running. i didn't realize this until 9:30am.
for lunch i made some scrambled eggs with a side of kielbasa sausage, washed down with some black tea since there was nothing else to drink in the house. i'm trying to eat healthier, but a lack of imagination and ingredients made me resort to the simplest recipes.
i called my 2nd aunt to ask her what she wanted from market basket: snapple iced tea, milk, scallions. as for me, i was there to get a bag of salad and some tomato sauce. it was cold this morning (20') but by the time i went out in the early afternoon it was 31°F. the roads were a little treacherous, any snow that didn't melt yesterday was now a solidly frozen and slippery obstacle, i kept to the center of the road whenever possible, where salt and traffic cleared the ice. i forgot to bring my bungie netting to secure the 12-pack case of snapple, but luckily i had some bungie cord wrapped around my rear bike baskets and use those to gently tie down the ice tea before carefully pedalling to the cafe, avoiding icy patches and pot holes.
while i was there, i also set up 2 yellow sticky traps in the potted plants. i don't know if there are any fungus gnats, but the sticky trap will catch them if there are. i returned home a little bit before 3pm.
my luxauto 1000W led grow light arrived today. i actually watched the UPS truck parked outside delivering packages. the delivery man seemed to visit every house but mine. a minute later i received an e-mail saying the package was delivered. i went out and found my box on my neighbor's doorstep.
the luxauto light was longer than the 3 led lights we currently own. it was also in black while the others are white. the luxauto felt heavier, weighing at 6.18 lbs. the power draw is 180W (according to specs, i'll need to do any actual measurement at some point). when it got here it was freezing cold, i let it warm up a bit before plugging it in the kitchen. even though it only has 96 LED's, when i turned it on, it was like having a magenta sun in the kitchen. people outside probably could've seen the unnatural glow coming from inside the house. i think the reflectors really help the light to focus each one of the 15W LED's. it's impossible to look at it directly without fear of permanent eye damage. i used my camera to examine the lights. the reflectors are kind of pretty, makes the light look like an array of colorful crystal light fixtures. two of the LED's are dim, those would be the IR LED's. not bad for a $54 light.
today was another cold yet sunny day, good for solar production. there must've been some clouds in the morning because there was a brief hiccup in the graph this morning before it shot straight up by 9:30am. nevertheless, it wasn't able to excede the midday maximum from a few days ago; there could still be lot areas of packed snow blocking the panels along the edges, preventing us from achieving the maximum production. we didn't do too bad today, but day's end we still managed to make 30.42kWh. we keep this up, we may just beat last year's january production record of 550.50kWh. this january we're currently at 341.78kWh, we still need 209kWh to break that record. we can do it if we average 19kWh per day of production for the rest of the month. tuesday-wednesday-thursday looks to be sunny clear days, we should be able to make 30kWh each, cutting the difference down to around 110kWh.
kevin returned home by 6:30pm, immediately went to the kitchen to make dinner, i heard the sound of shells rattling in a box, looks like he's having pasta tonight. he finished cooking by 7pm, retreated to his bedroom to eat. as for myself, i made another spaghetti and meatball sub, this time with a plate of salad (russian dressing) and some ginger beer. i asked kevin why he was up so early this morning (given that he went to bed so late), he said he couldn't sleep so decided to get up and go to work. i ate while watching the lakers-celtics game. kemba walker has never beaten lebron james, he's 0-28, until tonight that is, when boston spanked los angeles to a tune of 139-107. the lakers looked low energy, were missing shots, had none of theit signature dominance. the celtics on the other hand were coming off of a 3-game losing streak and was hungry for a win.
the mi fit app tells me i only i slept for 4-1/2 hours last night, before the alarm clock went off at 7am. i checked the cafe webcam and saw that the snow plow driver did come in the early morning and cleared the parking lot. that meant i didn't need to go to the cafe and clear the parking lot manually with the snowblower. that also meant i could sleep a bit later. but since i was already up anyway, i jerked myself out of bed. it wasn't the getting up that was hard; it was getting up in a cold house that was the challenge. i got dressed and readied myself to begin clearing the snow off of the solar panels.
when i checked the solar panels late last night, they were all covered. i was hoping there'd be some melting today but it was early and the panels were still covered. there didn't seem to be as much snow in cambridge, but it looked like it snowed about 4" in belmont. it was the soft fluffy type of snow, but because it was too thick, it wasn't as easy to push or pull off.
i started with the sunroom from the step ladder, clearing the bottom edge first. i then moved to the east side of the house with the extension ladder, where i cleared the 5 panels on that side. though the roof was in shadows when i first started, by that point the rising eastern sun was beginning to shine on the westernmost panels. from the way i was leaning on the ladder, i couldn't clear any of the sunroom panels. so i moved the extension ladder to the front of the sunroom, and managed to clear all the snow from those panels. i mostly pushed the snow off, with only the bottom few panels i pulled. with the step ladder, i first cleared the bottom edge of the western roof, and my reach was long enough that i cleared the first row of panels as well. finally, with the extension ladder, i cleared the rest of the western panels but clearing the few remaining main roof panels above the sunroom roof.
i started at 7:23am and finished by 8:36am, a little bit over an hour. i was shooting a time lapse video and had just enough juice in the battery to capture the whole event. when i took down the action camera the low battery icon was flashing ominously. my sister called me at 8:20am, said the cafe sidewalks needed to be cleared. i told her what little additional snow fell last night, she could clear on her own, but she said her hands hurt. last night i walked over a mile to the cafe in the snow and shoveled so much (at 3 locations) that my clothes were soaked and then i got up at sunrise to clear the solar panels and my sister was bothering me with a tiny amount of sidewalk snow that's going to all melt later today? sometimes i think she's incapable of thinking what other people are going through. and here i thought she was calling because she was offering me a ride back to cambridge!
i also shoveled the front of the house again, the snowplow had blocked the driveway. the chinese wife of our german neighbor waved hi to me and said if she could ask me a question about our solar panels. "is it worth it?" she inquired. i told her since my parents got the panels, they haven't had to pay for their electricity. not only that, they make additional money from energy credits. i was telling her more but i could sense she just wanted a simple yes or no answer. i told her we used united, she made a snide comment, "oh, we want to use a state registered company." i told her united was licensed.
too nervous to the use bathroom this morning, i had no problem going now after i finished with the snow clearing. afterwards i took a shower.
i had an opportunity to check the grow room. nowhere as many fungus gnats compared to a few weeks ago. the chive planter traps had some gnats, but nothing like before when the traps were completely covered with insects. the traps that seemed to have the most gnats were the ones in the lemongrass pot. i don't know if i'll be able to break the gnat fungus cycle when i do the 3rd and final soil drench, but as long as i keep up this regimen of letting the soil dry for 10+ days before a Bti watering, i think eventually it'll kill all the gnats. i took some sticky traps with me, going to set up a few at my place and in the cafe.
i ended up taking the 73 bus back to cambridge. i left by around 10am. earlier (9:30am) when i checked the client list of my home router, i noticed kevin had already left, which prompted me to turn off the thermostat, no point heating an empty house. i arrived in harvard square around 10:30am. when i got back home, judging by the snow on the doorsteps, i don't steve neither steve nor paul bothered to shovel anymore after what i did late last night. i sprinkled some salt later on to melt what little snow remained.
i made one final english muffin sandwich for lunch.
keeping my eye on the solar production, i noticed we weren't hitting the maximum despite a sunny clear blue sky day. checking the layout view of the solaredge admin page, i saw production wasn't uniform, meaning some panels were partially eclipsed by the snow. fortunately by around 11am, production finally turned constant, meaning whatever snow remained on the panels had all melted away.
a warmish (40's) sunny day after a snowstorm, a lot more people seemed to be out and about. it gave me a chance to do some people watching from my living room window.
i discovered a new show on the national geographic channel (which we get through youtube tv): life below zero. i'd heard about this show before but never seen an episode. i was surprised it's already in its 13th season. there's something about on a cold day watching a show about the lives of people living in even colder (alaskan) weather that actually makes me feel warmer by comparison. a native american man was taking his son into the wilderness to teach him survival skills; a woman with an arctic base camp needs to maintenance her runway; another woman learns how to dogsled; and finally a man who recently bought several acres of property goes snaring for rabbits. i think it's a show my father would like (i bookmarked it in his youtube tv account) because every once in a while they show a wood burning camping stove.
kevin hurried home in the evening, rushing to his room as if it was an emergency. he popped a frozen meal in the microwave and in about 5 minutes his dinner was ready, this was the extent of his cooking for tonight. i didn't seem him much the rest of the night, he was in his room busy with what i assume is work, perhaps a fit of inspiration.
the 2 football teams i was rooting for - tennessee titans and the green bay packers - both lost in their conference final game. heading into the super bowl are the kansas city chiefs and the san francisco 49ers. i have reasons to root against either teams: chiefs' qb mahomes is a young upstart that needs more seasoning before he deserves a super bowl victory, while a 49er's win would only remind patriots nation that we let jimmy garoppolo go for aging hall fame qb tom brady who became more of a prima donna the older he got and who has currently left the team in a lurch without knowing who our next starting qb will be while brady pursues free agency. i expect a lot number 12 patriots jerseys will be tossed into bonfires if brady signs elsewhere. anyway, the only good thing about new england not being in the super bowl is patriots fans can watch the game without going through an emotional rollercoaster.
eliza e-mailed me in the afternoon but i didn't see her message until later in the evening. she told me she had some sad news: our friend carl passed away last month from lung cancer, and our friend jerica passed away as well just last week, from breast cancer. i didn't know them as well as eliza, who first met them as coworker friends, but i saw them a bunch of times whenever i hung out with eliza. carl was one of the funniest person i ever knew, jerica one of the most kindest. the fact that they're gone forever is just so extraordinary because both of them were full of life, i could never imagine people like that ever dying. and both of them dying so close to one another, and both from cancer, what are the odds? this double tragedy should remind us all to cherish the time that we have with friends and family, because you never know when they might be gone forever.
i went to bed early, around midnight. i copied the latest episode (3) of the outsider onto my phone and watched it in my bedroom. the first two episodes had promise, but i really didn't like this latest one. i don't really like the holly gibney character, the high-functioning autistic super-sleuth. also turning the loud-mouth angry detective into the next big bad seems like low-hanging fruit. of course he'd be the guy. i'll still watch the series, but not as enthusiastic as before.
kevin was already in the kitchen with all the lights on making breakfast by the time i woke up at 9:30am. i knew he showered because there was two wet foot prints on the bathroom carpet and he didn't turn the hot water completely off so it was still dribbling from the shower head. i didn't know what his plans were for today, but when i heard the sounds of his backpack zipper, i knew he was going out. he left by 10:30am, destination unknown, but the fact that he took his laptop meant he was going to the office.
today was a weird day: i had nothing to do but wait until the snowstorm later in the evening, so i could go clean up by around 11pm or so, when it starts to taper off. i had a english muffin sandwich for lunch, washed down with a mug of hot chocolate. it was cold enough that i turned the heat on to 65°F (normally during the i endure a brisk 60°F), and roasted some hazelnuts in the oven while vacuuming the house to warm up.
in the late afternoon i informed my sister of my plan: shovel my own sidewalk around 10:30pm, walk down to the cafe and shovel the sidewalks there, then get a ride to belmont (there was also the option of catching the 75 bus) where i'd spend the night and wake up at sunrise to clean the snow off the solar panels, before finally taking the bus back to cambridge.
kevin came home by 7pm. he mainly kept to himself, but when i caught him in the kitchen while i was making a meatball sub for dinner, i told him that i was going out later tonight to shovel and wouldn't come back until tomorrow morning.
as for the sub, i heated the meatballs (5) on the stovetop, before pouring in tomato sauce. i read the instructions and it said they needed 15-20 minutes of stovetop heating; by that point the tomato sauce had already been cooked dry, so i had to add more. i toasted the sub roll with some provolone cheese in the toaster oven, before adding the meatballs. they get bigger once they're cooked, and i had a hard time fitting the final 5th meatball. i sprinkled some parmesan cheese on top and sliced the sub in half. it was pretty satisfying, crispy bread, gooey cheese, hot savory meatballs. the meatballs did taste a little processed though (maybe the meat was too grounded?), reminded me of school cafeteria lunch. a meatball sub would definitely taste better with handmade meatballs (which aren't that hard to make, but using readymade frozen meatballs saves me time).
when i went out shoveling around 9:40pm, kevin asked if he could help as well. i said okay, even though there was just a little bit of sidewalk to clear. i'm still not exactly sure how much snow experience he has. it definitely snows in his hometown of taiyuan shanxi, and temperature wise it's about the same there as it is here, but the few anecdotes he's given me makes me think it when it does snow, it's not a lot, since taiyuan is landlocked. he said the last time they had a big snowstorm was back when he was in grade school, and judging by the amount he showed me using his hand, it was close to 2ft of snow. as much as i'd like him to experience a real new england blizzard that can dump feet of snow, i also don't want to see that personally, because it'll be a nightmare to clean up (from shoveling to solar panel cleaning). kevin did have a hat and when we went back inside, his hair was covered in snow.
i decided to leave early, at 10pm, in case my sister couldn't give me a ride, there was a bus going to belmont at 11:40pm i'd be able to catch. i gathered up my things and started walking to the cafe. it was still snowing (wouldn't stop until midnight or so), so i carried an umbrella. i wore my columbia interchange jacket which was really warm, but later i'd regretted this decision as i became too hot. i finally arrived at my sister's place around 10:30pm. a snowblower would make quick work of this powdery snow, but because it was so late i was reluctant to use it, so instead i shoveled everything manually by hand.
working my way from my sister's place to the cafe, my sister came out to help me after she cleared portions of her backyard. there wasn't that much snow, maybe 3 inches at most, and even though it was still snowing, the forecast said it would soon taper off. i could've really used the help of the snowblower to clear the long stretch of sidewalk along the edge of the parking lot. it wasn't that the shoveling was hard, it was there was just nowhere to put the snow, so i just pushed it off of the sidewalk. we were debating if the snowplow driver would come later in the evening. the past 2 snowstorms he didn't bother coming because he said there wasn't enough to plow (he doesn't come if it's below 3"); if he still doesn't show up by tomorrow morning, it means i have to come with and use the snowblower to clear the parking lot.
we were finally done by 11:30pm, my sister gave me a ride to belmont. by that point my jacket was already soaked and strands of frozen icicles formed in my hair. once i arrived in belmont, i put down my things and went outside to shovel the sidewalk and driveway then clean the cars. with i also went to the backyard to check the solar panels, they were all snow-covered. i did see rabbit foot prints, not sure how they're getting in, but i'll worry about that some other day. there was a dead mouse in the trap, but because of all the snow i couldn't find a place to bury it so i did a simple snow burial in a remote corner of the yard. i finally finished by 12:30am, with more cleaning tomorrow when i wake up at the crack of dawn to clear the solar panels. i hung up my wet clothes by the radiator, not knowing if the heat will kick in to dry them. it was 60°F in the house, which didn't feel cold at first, but the more i stayed there, the colder i felt, so i decided to go to sleep after doing some computer stuff in the living room.
i took a shower, quickly toweled off, then climbed into bed. my parents use a heated mattress cover but i didn't want to deal with the hassle of figuring out how to use it so i just waited under the covers until i warmed up.
kevin woke up around 7am this morning, i could hear him in the kitchen. since i was awake, i turned up the heat a few degrees before falling back asleep. when i checked the router's client list, his laptop and phone were gone. i honestly don't understand how he can already be here for 3 weeks and still haven't figured out a morning routine yet. okay, maybe the first week he was jetlagged (which i don't believe), but that doesn't explain the past 2 weeks where he still wakes up at all random hours.
i was still in bed when my 2nd aunt texted me around 9:30am, asking me to call her. i did immediately, she told me she couldn't turn on the heat in the cafe. i checked the nest app and sure enough, the cafe thermostat was set to ECO and the temperature had dropped to 55 degrees. i quickly turned it on, one of those rare cases when i was able to fix something remotely. i was playing with the settings last night, noticed the thermostat had put itself in ECO mode. but there's the nest putting itself in ECO mode when it senses nobody home, and manually setting the nest to ECO, which was what i did. not only did it essentially turn off the thermostat, but because i never set a base temperature, it kept on dropping. thankfully it wasn't on a sunday when the cafe is closed, and my aunt was able to catch it in time.
i got dressed to bike down to michael's to pick up my online order of superglue. i wore my fleece puffy vest over a sherpa wool hooded sweatshirt, and a fleece trapper's hat on top of that. i didn't feel cold at first, but when i was traveling on the bike, my arms felt cold, that sherpa wool is not a windbreak. it was also so cold i was starting to get an ice cream headache and felt lethargic (later i found out it was because my back brake pads were frozen in place). instead of a seperate counter for online pickups, i had to wait in the regular line. it's still new enough that they haven't ironed out all the kinks yet, and it took some fumbling to finally get my order from the online merchandise locker.
next i biked to the dollar store to pick up some snacks for later tonight, when my sister asked me to dogsit hailey for a few hours. i got some gummy candy and a few beef jerkies.
finally i went to walgreens, to ask about the prescriptions i tried to refill over the automated phone service last night, but was denied for some reason. the pharmacist said two of the orders when through, but one of them seemed to be stuck. he fixed the error and said he'd have that refill done in a few minutes while i browsed the aisles.
i got home before noontime where i made another pesto ham egg cheese english muffin sandwich for lunch.
i had to go back to the dollar store when my sister asked if i had any spare batteries for her electronic mousetrap. this time i brought out my columbia interchange jacket, which i only wear in extreme cold conditions. that jacket is plenty warm, but sometimes i wonder if a down-filled heavy-duty parka would be even warmer? i'm just used to wearing winter jackets that leave me feeling slightly cold, since normally i'm walking or biking if i'm outside, and i can warm up rather quickly. but it'd be nice to have a parka, though then my feet would feel cold by comparison, so i'll need to invest in some insulated boots as well.
i biked to my sister's place around 4pm, first making a stop at the cafe to check on my 2nd aunt. i basically reassured her that it wasn't going to snow tomorrow, because she gets really skittish at the slightest sign of snow and will then decide not to come to work. i told her she probably wouldn't see snow until the evening. at least she'll get a break on sunday, while i'll be the one busy with work shoveling three properties.
for just the second time this month (and this year), we had a perfect production day. compared to the result about a week ago (jan.9), you can clearly see that the daytime amount is lengthening both at sunrise and sunset. we're also peaking above 6kW, which is important to keep in mind since it wasn't until late may of last year did we finally get the correct inverter and was able to generate electricity above 6kW. 2020 will be the first year where we can produce our maximum potential electricity for the entire year, so it'll be interesting to see how much more kWh we can make versus 2019. on the graph i plotted the line for jan.31st of last year, the first time that month where we surpassed 32kWh+; note the distinctive production plateau at 6kW.
after my sister left for work, hailey retreated to the bedroom, and i was left by myself in the living room, streaming a c-span interview that conan o'brien did of robert caro from april 2019. i also checked my router client's list periodically, noticing that kevin was already back home before 5:30pm. i turned on the heat, but later thought maybe he went to the supermarket (he seems to go every other day, prefers his ingredients fresh) because i didn't see his phone, but sometimes he's home with the phone off, and i couldn't take the risk of not turning on the heat when he could be freezing inside the house, so i figured it was a small price to pay.
i used the flir camera to scan my sister's place, at least to the best of my ability before the camera stopped working again. just being there tonight i could already feel how chilly it was. the infrared camera revealed very poorly insulated walls. this house would be a good candidate for pump-in insulation, but logistically it'd be difficult since it shares spaces with a commercial restaurant. something to think about for the near future. now the only place left to scan with the infrared camera is my parents' place.
at exactly 6pm hailey came out for her dinner. i gave her a cup of dog feed along with a squirt of her joint medicine. i coaxed her back into the living room with some dog treats then returned home before 6:30pm. the house was dark, just as i suspected, kevin probably went to the supermarket. while i was putting my bike away in the basement he must've just came home because all the lights were suddenly on.
after kevin finished eating dinner, he did a load of laundry, seems to be his routine, wash his clothes every week. he also asked me if i had any super glue, just so happens i got some this morning, but i lied and said no. he said he needed glue to make the wood project for his girlfriend, and showed me the wood slices he bought off of amazon (kind of expensive, about half a dozen for $17). he said he wanted to glue a piece of dowel onto the wood, i'm still not quite sure what he's making, he's still being vague. i told him to check out michael's or tag hardware in porter square for glue and screws.
it would've been a nice quiet friday night were it not for the fact that kevin pissed all over the bathroom floor again for the 3rd time. i knocked on his door to tell him what happened, he was in his room exercising with his dumb bells, listening to music. he didn't seem to believe me and came into the bathroom to see for himself while i was on my knees wiping up the urine. first he denied it, then said it was probably water, but i assured him it was his urine, as it was all over the walls and the back and front of the toilet. he volunteered to clean but if he doesn't even know how to pee correctly, how would he even know how to properly clean up? he's been peeing sitting down to prevent dripping on the floor, but i think it makes it worse, because ever since he switched to the sitting position, he occasionally pees directly onto the floor. i told him to stop and just pee normal, but clean up any drips afterwards. i said i already cleaned a pee-soaked bathroom three times already, and don't want to clean it again. i don't think he understood what i meant: if he does it one more time i'm going to kick him out.
kevin went to bed early, before 11pm. i wonder if that means he's going to wake up early tomorrow and go to work?
i've been keeping my eye out for good led grow light deals on amazon. we currently have 3 (2x 1000W iplantops, 1x 1000W xeccon) which are all being used; once i begin growing some seedlings towards the end of winter, we're going to need another light, whether at my parents' place (running out of room) or my place. i ended up buying the luxauto 1000W: retails for $108, but there was a half-off sale bringing the price to just $54, plus some taxes. i also had some credit left from the eton shortwave radio i returned a month ago, further lowering it to $29. in the back of my mind there was also my $200 reference bonus, so after an hour of comparison research, i decided to get the luxauto. it's been on my radar from when i was researching cheap but good led grow lights. it ranks amongst the highest in terms of PAR value, but that's misleading because it uses reflectors, which amplifies the light but makes them too focused, more like spotlight when i want a flood light. so i'm leery, and still might return it if it doesn't seem good. but at $54, it's the least expensive led grow light in our collection. the luxauto 1000W is a few inches longer and slightly more narrow, which is good when you have a rectangular growing area (instead of a square). at 24" height, the center PAR value is 565, compared with 516 of the iplantop or 447 of the xeccon. the graph however doesn't show the falloff value, which i imagine to be worse than either the iplantop or xeccon, since those lights don't use reflectors. the luxauto employs triple chips leds (like all the led lights we own), but only 96 of them. there's a few IR leds but no UV, which i don't mind since i believe the UV kills the beneficial Bti bacterias. it's due to arrive on monday. when turned on, it draws 180W of power, comparable to running 3 T8 fluorescent shop light.
so much for morning routines: kevin didn't leave for work until 11:40am today, so what was the point of creating a heating schedule when he doesn't even follow it? at this point i give up, i'm going to turn up the heat at 8:30am, and turn it back off by 9:30am, just so that when i wake up the house is warm. i don't care about what kevin does, if he wakes up to a cold house let him complain to me.
the house managers presented the impeachment articles to the senate today. it was all very solemn, senators like to think of themselves as somehow better than the house, more civilized, more refined, but both sides are garbage. thankfully it didn't take too long, and there was still enough time left for my noontime news broadcast to show me the weather forecast: cold tomorrow, some snow then rain saturday night. what i really want to know is when the rain will stop on sunday night, so i can start my shoveling circuit: my place, the cafe, and then the solar panels at my parents' place.
i decided to jazz up my english muffin lunch with a layer of pesto: a ham and egg parmesan cheese english muffin sandwich with a spread of pesto. the pesto had a nice savory sweet flavor, i think i've found my new everything spread. afterwards i had some orange slices.
i went to market basket in the late afternoon for some groceries. it's the third time in 4 days that i've visited MB. i got some ingredients for next week's lunch and dinner, decided to try my hands at making some meatball subs. there was a sale on ready made frozen meatballs so i'm kind of cheating but anything that can speed up dinner prep is a good thing.
kevin came home by 7pm. i can tell from the amount of chopping sounds i hear from the kitchen whether he's making a big dinner or a small dinner. today there was just a little chopping. when i finally went to the kitchen to heat up a brick of lasagna, i found the kitchen countertop to be unusually clean and there was only a few dirty dishes in the sink. turns out he was heating up another frozen pizza in the oven. the chopping noises were some broccoli and other vegetables he cut up to put on his pizza. unfortunately he didn't add them to the pizza in the oven, and only realized his mistake when he was decorating his pie with cold vegetable slices. he offered me a piece (without cold vegetables), it was good.
i finally hooked up the flir infrared camera we borrowed from matthew. for whatever reason the connection is very sensitive and would break from the slightest jostle, maybe also because i'm using a usb-c to usb-micro adapter; took me several tries to get it work, and even then it'd lose the connection after a few seconds. it's already been a few weeks, i think the reason it took me this long to use the camera was because i was afraid of what i'd find. but there was no surprises, places where it saw as cold were places i already knew: around the windows, baseboards, back door. i guess the cold baseboards surprised me the most, but there's nothing i can do without tearing up the walls to put additional insulation. what i have now is good enough, definitely better than what i had before, as witnessed in my winter gas bill savings.