my father gave me a ride around noontime because it was raining. earlier he and my sister were helping her godmother move more things to her new central square apartment. i made two italian subs with my remaining cold cuts. while i waited for my ride, i also had a bowl of cereal, trying to use up all my milk before it goes bad.
while my parents were eating their italian subs (they only ate half), i had some noodles for lunch my mother had made for me. with it still raining outside, there wasn't much to do this afternoon but snack and watch nothing good on television.
at one point my father and i cleaned the living room jasmines with alcohol-dipped cotton swabs when he discovered some mealybugs. that's strange because i sprayed them with neem oil extract on wednesday, but i guess i mustn't have been thorough enough. fortunately monday might be another 50 degrees day, so i can take another stab at spraying all the houseplants.
in the late afternoon i went to go take a nap, waking up before dinner. i slept on top of the cover which was cold, but finally crawled underneath the cover and got too hot. i dreamed that hailey stole all my pizza when i went to the kitchen for a few seconds.
my father gave me a ride back to cambridge. it was foggy, the full moon like a dimly light white bulb in the sky. i took a shower when got home. i fixed myself a warm mug of hot chocolate then finished watching episode 2 of the season 2 of for all mankind. later in the evening i got a little hungry and made myself a cup of maruchan instant noodles.
in the news today was the FDA's emergency use approval for the johnson & johnson covid-19 vaccine. this was all a formality, the FDA already found the vaccine safe to use, and this was just a final approval stamp. the J&J vaccine will speed up the vaccination process since it only needs regular refrigeration, has a long shelf life, and only requires one shot. it's good in every way except it's only 70% effective against the coronavirus, compared to the 95% of pfizer and moderna. however, those two mRNA vaccines were trial tested before the predominance of the various variants. if they were to be tested now, their efficacy might be lower. regardless, given the chance to get a vaccine, you take whatever you can get. more than likely we'll all need an additional booster shot at the end of the year to combat the new variants.
whole milk can go bad pretty fast. the gallon that i have i got back on february 15th, and 11 days later it's already tasting off. it's still drinkable, but when i warm up the milk, it doesn't have that sweet milk fragrance like it used to, and when i drink it as is, i can taste a faint trace of oncoming sourness. i just need to finish this milk as quickly as possible since it's about to go bad within the next few days.
besides a matcha latte, i also made a simple turkey sandwich with my deli turkey slices, lettuce, and mayo served on a leftover blue ribbon barbecue burger bun that's been sitting on my kitchen counter since february 8th. it was pretty good considering it was just an improvised sandwich made with unwanted ingredients. i also went over to bruce's place to get some cabbage and celery soup he told me about last night. he also told me that jack slip and fell by danehy park and he had to drive over there to get him. when jack complained he felt a little woozy, bruce called the ambulance an jack went to the emergency room at mt.auburn hospital. bruce said it looked like jack might've dislocated his arm, which is better than being broken, but they won't know until after the x-ray.
after lunch i biked down to chinatown for some groceries. i can't believe the last time i was in chinatown was more than a month ago. the main reason is it's been a snowy february, and road conditions weren't conducive for a chinatown trip by bike. the temperature today was in the upper 30's but warm in the sun and no wind. i warmed up enough from biking that i unzipped my jacket but later zipped back up when i felt a bit cold.
i went to c-mart first because their short grain glutinous rice is much cheaper. i was also looking for japanese narutomaki but they didn't have it. while i was there, i kept hearing a message over the PA that their credit card machines weren't working so you can only pay with cash. fortunately i always carry an emergency $20 bill in my stack of credit cards so i was covered.
next i went to ming's market down the street. here i bought the bulk of my items. i was nearly finished with my shopping when i overheard the fishmonger telling his customer that they were only accepting cash, that their credit card machines were also malfunctioning. i had a moment of panic because i didn't have anymore cash. normally i would, but ever since the pandemic, i only carry my credit card since it means no dirty cash has to change hands. then i remember the new chase bank branch around the corner and that i could make free ATM cash withdrawals using my new TD bank debit card. so i left my shopping cart behind and went to the bank to get money. however i realized i don't usually carry my td bank card, that i primarily use my amazon credit card instead. fortunately i also had the cafe company debit card, and was able to withdraw cash using that. they were really nice at the bank, i think it's because they don't see enough customers. they were also advertising all their safety protocols like hand sanitizers and alcohol wipes. chase charged me a $3 fee and i don't know how much the debit card bank will charge me as well. but at least now i could pay for my stuff. chase was also giving out freebies and i took two year of the ox chinese calendar.
i left chinatown by 2:30pm, got home by 3:15pm. my original plan was to just stay home, but i saw my godmother at the cafe (from the webcam) which meant i could give her the jiu niang that i'd made. i took a quick shower because i was sweaty (and reeked a bit of body odor) before riding down to the cafe with the supplies. i tried the jiu niang before i went, i only sampled a tiny amount, it tasted sweet enough, but could use an additional day of fermentation. when my parents sampled the jiu niang at the cafe, they said it was already plenty sweet, and when i tried it again a second time, it was definitely ready to eat.
i got home a bit before 5pm and immediately started making some glutinous rice balls AKA tangyuan (湯圓). today is 元宵節 (lantern festival) which marks the 15th day and the end of chinese new year with a full moon. tangyuan is traditionally eaten on this day, and since i have the means to make them, i thought i'd follow tradition tonight.
for some reason i had the bright idea of making orange tangyuan as well as the usual white (plain) and pink. i mixed a cup of glutinous rice flour with 1/2 cup of warm tap water. from a single dough ball i separated it into 3 individual dough balls. i added a single drop of food coloring to make the pink and combined a drop of red and yellow to make the orange. in hindsight i should've gone with yellow instead of orange, since it looked more peach.
while cooking the tangyuan (they're ready once they float), i got out an old jar of jiu niang. i have various vintages in my fridge, the one that i got was some leftover from 12-23-2020, more than 2 months ago. i tasted it and it was incredibly sweet and had that fragrant jiu niang aroma. i used some leftover tangyuan water to cook an egg and add the jar of jiu niang and the tangyuan. i made the mistake of breaking the yolk and my jiu niang soup turned yellow when it should be white. but tastewise it was delicious, the sweetest i've ever had, and everything homemade too.
i ate my jiu niang soup while watching the latest episode of wandavision. can't believe the season is almost over, just one more episode left next friday. afterwards i snacked on some watermelon seeds i'd bought in chinatown.
i didn't have dinner until almost 10pm. made myself one last italian sub (don't think i can eat anymore) as well as reheated some of bruce's cabbage and celery soup. it tasted like chowder, just minus the potatoes and seafood. there has be some milk in this soup, but i couldn't taste any of the cabbage or celery, it was just a savory sweet soup.
later i made myself a mug of warm hot chocolate in an attempt to use up the milk. i used the frother to mix in the powdered cocoa, it was very good but sweet.
even though my parents already got their vaccination appointments (next wednesday), i was still curious about the mass vaccination website a week after the server crash fiasco. the governor said they fixed the problem but i wanted to see for myself. it wasn't difficult since starting before 7am i began to receive tweets on my fitness tracker from the mass vaccine twitterbot announcing the availability of vaccine appointments. first it was remote places like dartmouth and springfield, a few hundred vaccines there, a few hundred there. then gillette stadium started showing up with about a thousand per day for the east clinic and the west clinic. however when fenway park started announcing appointment availability, there were less than 100 appointments per day. someone appointments were already gobbled up before they were even made available to the public. there's some secret way that certain people are booking slots that's hidden to the average vaccine seeker.
but out of curiosity i clicked one of the links for fenway park. the website didn't crash like las time, but instead brought me to a "waiting room" page where i was informed there was a 2 hours wait time. elsewhere on reddit, people were posting screen shots where the "helpful" portal page was telling them there were 100k people ahead of them in the virtual line. so once again it's impossible for the average person to book a vaccine appointment. first, there's only so much vaccines each week. second, the registration website is a joke, it's efficient, and could potentially discourage people looking for the vaccine to end up not getting it at all. and these are the people who want the vaccines! imagine trying to vaccinate those who don't want it? later i read on reddit someone's proposal to improve the vaccination distribution. everyone who wants a vaccine should register their info, those eligible would be enter a lottery system where they'd get an appointment, if they don't confirm within a given amount of time, the appointment goes back into the pool. that seems to be the fairest system and makes it so that you don't need a degree in computer hacking in order to score a vaccine appointment.
originally i planned on going to chinatown today. but my mother called me in the morning and told me it was too windy, and that i should go tomorrow instead. after a matcha latte for lunch, i went to market basket to get some more deli meats. i also deposited two grocery bags' worth of cans and bottles. i needed ham and some more capicola. i got a package of ham from the ready made dispenser but later realized once i got home it was actually turkey (though it said ham). i was shopping when walgreens automated pharmacy called to let me know my prescriptions were ready. once i dropped off the groceries back at home, i walked down to walgreens to pick up my medication. i also got two bags of chili pistachios that were on sale (seems like a lot of food items at walgreens were on sale for some reason).
my sister's godmother returned to cambridge today to move into her new place. my sister went to go pick her up from south station and afterwards my father took my sister's godmother to her new apartment. she has zero furnitures so my parents gave her two ikea STIG bar stools and loaned her a zero gravity chair. she had some food in the fridge of her old apartment but kevin ate most of it during her absence. now that she's living alone she doesn't have to worry about china roommates eating her food! she's only here until the weekend before returning to connecticut. she gave her employeer a generous 2 month notice to find a new live-in nanny. hopefully when she moves back to cambridge she can find more local work.
for dinner i made another italian sub, 3rd night in a row. i had a nectarine afterwards.
some excitement later in the evening, when i noticed a police SUV cruising down the street with its flood lights and red and blues turned on. i was curious as to what was going on, but then i remembered i can pick up police radio chatter with my baofeng radio. i wasn't sure which town so i had it tuned to both cambridge and somerville. somerville dispatch revealed the reason: the was a report of a suspicious white male wearing a tan hat apparently peeking into a house on beacon street. both cambridge and somerville police were notified and sent officers to the area. at one point several police SUV's congregated right out my house as the officers then walked the area on foot. i don't think they caught the guy because later i heard someone on the radio speculating that the suspect might've left in the direction of porter square.
after a matcha latte, after a bathroom break, i made an italian sub and rode to the cafe to deliver it to my mother. my outdoor weather sensor said it was 60 degrees by that point. i was also there to drop off my sister's godmother's apartment keys. xiaojuan stopped by as i continued on my way to belmont.
because it was such a warm day, i was at my parents' place to move all the house plants (except the cactuses) from the grow room out into the backyard so i could properly spray them with neem oil extract.
it wasn't that easy as some of those potted plants were heavy. to make matters worse, much of the backyard was still covered in snow, and i didn't want to put the plants on the snow (it'd be like putting them on ice), so i had to put them on the other side of the yard where there was grass. it was warm while the sun was out, but when the sun was obscured by clouds, suddenly it'd feel cold. i worked in just a t-shirt.
i mixed a half gallon of neem oil extract spray (1 tbsp of concentrated neem oil extract, 1/2 cold tap water) in the pump sprayer, mixed it thoroughly, before i started spraying. it was a lot easier to thoroughly drench all the leaves and easier to inspect them afterwards. the gardenia i sprayed several times, making sure to completely soak the flower buds. it has the most amount of mealybugs but they were easy to find and i squished all those that i saw. the singular jasmine had a few mealybugs, harder to detect on the jasmines, but look for clumps of leaves which is where mealybugs usually like to hide. the terracotta potted jasmine also had a small amount of mealybugs hiding underneath some lower leaves that i managed to spray and remove. otherwise, all the other plants seemed fine. so far this year i haven't seen any spider mites, which was a problem last winter. the neem oil extract also kills mites if there are anyway, so maybe that's why.
i left the neem oil extract to drip dry before moving them back into the basement. while i was waiting, it gave me an opportunity to do some drone flying. there were a few places i saw when i went on that walk with my mother that i wanted to revisit. there was the house by the park that had 3 different types of solar panels: solar water heating and 2 different brands of photovoltaic panels. it looked like a mess but the roof was perfectly positioned southern-facing, and the fact that they have solar water heating meant they were early adopters of solar technology. along that same street with two other neighbors with solar panels as well.
there was also the red chinese-themed house on a terrace road by the reservoir. i'd never flown up this way before because it stretches the limits of my signal strength, and i was at 2 bars the whole time here. i've seen this house since my middle school days, so back in the late 80's. i'd never seen the owners, but i believe they were white not asian, just had a fondness for chinese designs. the house is really cool looking - dragons and chinese characters adorn the fences, eaves, shutters - but could use some repairs. even the roof has asian decorations in the shingles. my mother walks by here often and she told me a chinese family lives here now. i wanted to drop down for a closer look, but i was already stretching my signal strength as it is, and i didn't want to accidentally hit a tree or powerline.
seems like every time i fly these days - even if it's just to send the drone into the air to take a quick panorama - the DJI fly app crashes on me. today i noticed the video streaming was stuttering and the app froze a few minutes. one time when i regained control, i lost my bearing and flew in the wrong direction, getting lost before i oriented myself to the horizon to find some landmarks. i had just 6 minutes left of flying time before the app froze for another minute while i waited. it crashed out, i restarted the app, i used a return-to-home command. stopping it from video recording which gave me a few more minutes of fly time and i managed to get back with a few minutes to spare.
after moving the plants back into the basement grow room, i left belmont by 3pm.
my covid test result from yesterday came back today, a little over 24 hours later. that's some amazing turnaround time. it was an e-mail with a link and registration code. after i filled out some info, they sent me another e-mail with a link to the test result and a confirmation code. it told me what i already knew, that i haven't been exposed to the coronavirus. i was actually kind of disappointed, i was hoping maybe i already contracted the virus without knowing it and never had any symptoms. i think it just shows i've been responsible during the pandemic, wearing my mask, social distancing, and washing my hands.
for dinner i made another italian sub. i've got enough ham to make 2 more subs, which will last me until thursday and friday, but i still have 2 extra sub breads. i may have to go back to market basket and get some additional cold cuts and make some sandwiches for my mother this weekend.
i noticed the lotus roots in my fridge storage had some white mold on them. so i took them out of the ziploc bag and washed them again in a diluted bleach solution. hard to even say if these roots are still alive. they didn't grow very well last summer even though i gave them the best growing conditions. i'm going to see if i can revive them in a jar of water before planting so i don't waste my time replanting dead lotuses.
iafter a matcha latte for lunch, i rode the bike to market basket to get some groceries. i decided to make italian subs for dinner the rest of the week, went to the deli to pick up different flavors of cold cuts (ham, capicola, prosciutto).
after dropping off the groceries at the house, i went out again, this time to the cafe to pick the house key for my sister's godmother's apartment in central square. she's coming back on thursday, and i wanted to see the place before she returned.
after i got the key, i made my way to harvard square to get my covid-19 test. the empty space that used to be the fire + ice restaurant had been converted into a testing site. two ambulances were parked outside, not sure if they were related to the testing. some people were outside, waiting to get in. before you went in, they had you disinfect your hands, blow your nose (throwing the used tissue into a waste bin), then disinfect your hands again. apparently you could be tested even if you didn't make an appointment and there were supposed to be two lines, but since there weren't a lot of people getting tested, there was just a single line.
the woman who saw me asked for my birthday, if i'd made an appointment, and when did i make it. she found my record and verified my name and e-mail address. she said they'd send the test result via e-mail in 48-72 hours. she printed out a sticker with my info on it then affixed it to a small test tube and handed me a nasal swab. she told me to follow the tape and go to the other side of the room. there someone greeted me, asked if i've ever been tested before. when i said no, he demonstrated with a nasal swab (basically a q-tip). he instructed me to swab 5 fives in one nostril (no deeper than the head of the q-tip), then repeat with the other nostril, before putting the swab inside the test tube. there was somebody else who was doing the test as well, and since he faced the wall, i did too. afterwards i put the test tube in a container with other test tubes and i was free to go.
from harvard square i rode to central square. from my days as a census worker, i knew which side streets to cut to get to the manning apartments. i noticed right next door is a cambridge library branch. the apartments were recently renovated, so it had that new apartment feel to it. to get inside i used a key fob to activated the sliding door. i checked to see if there were any mail in the mailbox (none). i then went upstairs to the 16th floor (there's a total of 19th stories).
the whole reason why i came here was for the view. i wanted to see for myself the spectacular panorama of boston from the comforts of the living room window. photos don't do it just, the moment i walked into the apartment was like floating above the city of boston, it felt that close. as for the rest of the apartment, there was a little kitchen with an island, brand new stove and refrigerator. the bedroom was a little dark but a window that also looks out onto boston makes up for it and i imagine it must get pretty sunny in the morning (facing east). there was also a bathroom attached to the bedroom, shower only.
from that height, not only could i see the skyscrapers, but also many boston landmarks: MIT dome (cambridge), trinity church, logan airport control tower, fenway park, boston medical center, rainbow swash gas tank, hyatt regency hotel (pyramid hotel).
i could've spent the whole day here, just watching all the things happening down below. or the view of boston at sunrise or sunset. instead i just spent an hour there, taking photos, before i finally left.
next i went in search of an empty park where i could launch my drone and take a 360° panorama. i was basically just wandering around cambridgeport, navigating the maze of one-way streets. i ended up going to hoyt field. there was nobody there except a woman playing with her dog on the icy field. i pulled the drone out of the bag and set it into the air. before it even reached 400ft, my DJI fly app froze up. afterwards it went to a blank screen and i had to restart the app. unlike in past crashes, it seemed to have logged me out for some reason, and wanted me to create a new account. i started getting worried, because if i can't regain control of the drone, it would hopefully initiate a self return-to-home command and land. or maybe it would just hover in the air until the battery ran out and crash to the ground. after some tense moments, i skipped the login and it somehow brought me to the normal splash screen where i was able to regain control of the drone. but it wasn't happy, and kept freezing up intermittently throughout the flight. after taking a 360° panorama, i finally brought the drone down.
i left by 3:20pm and returned home less than 20 minutes later.
for dinner i made an italian sub. i also cooked up a new batch of jiu niang. this time i used 3 cups of glutinous sweet rice (added 3 cups of water) so i could make 3 jars. my mother asked me to make more so she could give one to my godmother. i used half a packet of angel rice leaven (4g). a full packet (8g) is supposed to be enough to ferment 2-2.5kg of rice. 3 cups of glutinous rice is only 620g, so half a packet should be more than enough. i started a bit late as the jiu niang needs at least 3 days of room temperature fermenting. it'd only be 30 hours using the heated instant pot but i personally feel a slower ferment yields a sweeter jiu niang. this friday is the lantern festival which marks the end of chinese new year. traditionally glutinous rice balls are eaten on that day, and they're best served with some jiu niang.
i had more than a dozen homemade chinese dumplings for lunch today. afterwards i pursued my mother to go out on her daily walk, before the rain started. i went with her. originally i wanted to do some drone flying, but with the approaching rain and the increased wind gusts, i decided not to fly. i went out anyway to check for initial spots to launch and things around the neighborhood worth investigating from the sky. since it was a monday, there was hardly anyone else out walking. there was a very light drizzle when we left but stopped before we got home. i kept spotting houses with solar panels. i noticed a house that had a ham radio antenna mounted to the chimney. at one point we watched 4 crows mob a red-tail hawk perched in a pine tree.
it started raining more steadily after 2pm. my bike was parked outside with a plastic bag over the seat so it wouldn't get soaked. normally i don't like my bike getting wet, but it's so encrusted in salt, i figured a rain wash would do it some good.
after dinner it continued to rain, though only a very light drizzle. my father was ready to give me a ride back to cambridge (and put my bike in the back) but i convinced him the rain was nothing and i could still ride home. i made it home in good time, just 16 minutes, and i wasn't even damp.
a small package waited for me in the foyer. i opened it up to find 8 pairs (16x) of dji mini 2 propellers ($10; compared to a set of 4 original DJI brand propellers which sells for $15). though the ebay ad didn't say they were knockoffs, at that price i knew what i was getting. i compared them to a set of dji brand propellers. the props themselves look about the same, even the part number is similar except the original props say DJI on them. the painted orange tips look a little rough on the knockoff props, but it doesn't affect the flying. it also came with screws. i heard horror stories of people attaching props with the wrong screws, stripping the motor thread. these new screws look similar, but i can see minor differences, and they're not as well made as the original screws. the new screws don't have blue loctite like the old screws, but i can apply my own. DJI recommends replacing the screws when you replace the props, but only because they don't you reusing old loctite screws. but if i apply a brand new layer of blue loctite onto the threads, they become as good as new. i think i'm going to use the old screws for the time being, just apply fresh loctite.
when i got out of bed this morning at 10am and went to the living room, i could see my backup hard drive was still blinking, meaning the backup still hadn't finished yet. when i checked the status, it said it was cleaning up. this final step can take a notoriously long time if one hasn't backed up in a while and i wasn't sure how much longer i had to wait, since time machine has already been working overnight for the past 8 hours. so i went to go use the bathroom and take a shower. when i got out, i noticed the hard drive light wasn't blinking anymore and the backup had finally finished.
i left my house around 11:45am, biking to belmont. i made it to about 2 blocks before i realized there was something funny with my bike, and by that i meant the front brake didn't work anymore. i stopped flintstone-style and pulled over to the curb to inspect the brakes. the left caliper arm was stuck, lost its springiness. it wasn't something i could just power through so i turned back around and returned home to fix the problem. i ended up adjusting the tension on the brake cable, tightening the tension on the left brake caliper, and realigning the front wheel. while i was at it, i also adjusted the tilt on the bike seat. it took half an hour but i was finally finished by 12:20pm and continued on my way.
for lunch i had some lotus starch soup along with some vegetable buns my 2nd aunt had made. the lotus starch reminded me a lot of the glutinous rice flour broth i make for my korean kimchi, the one where i add brown sugar. it has a mild sweet flavor with a nice fragrance, like flowers. later i snacked on some leftover chicken feet. my father told me when we made it last time, we fried it first puff up the chicken feet, then we combined it with the spicy sauce and steamed them instead of boiling. the problem with boiling is the collagen from the feet gets dissolved in the water and you're left with gelatin. also, leftover boiled chicken feet get hard after they cold, unlike fried-steamed chicken feet.
i assembled the ikea utility cart in the living room while watching escape from new york on tv. ikea furnitures are like the adult version of a lego kit. they're so fun to assemble and come with clear-cut instructions, i'm surprised there are people out there who find it difficult. afterwards i brought it down in the basement grow room.
i made my weekly inspection of the basement houseplants. there was some more mealybugs on the potted jasmine closest to the fan. i dabbed all that i could find with 90% alcohol then sprayed the whole plant with neem oil extract. aphids tend to congregate on the emerging gardenia flower buds, but through judicial neem oil spraying, we've kept the aphids mostly in check, there were just a few. i move the gardenia to the spray box and sprayed all the flower buds with neem oil. i also found a few spray mealybugs that i sprayed with neem oil as well. the hot peppers plants seem to be aphid free, what little i found seemed to be dried aphid husks. nevertheless, i sprayed them with neem oil in the basement utility sink. i watered the gardenia and the terracotta pot jasmine because their soil seemed dry, but didn't water any of the other plants. i inspected the terracotta jasmine and the 4 wire rack jasmines, i didn't see any mealybugs. i added more water to the reed plant. finally i sprayed the cactus tips with neem oil to control the aphids. something i noticed is ever since we switched to vegetative growth only for our jasmine LED grow lights, there hasn't been any flowers. this is ideal, since it means the plants aren't using resources to make flowers. it could also be a result of having less light. we don't need them to flower during the winter, we just want to keep them alive. plus using only vegetative light means less wattage which means less electricity consumption.
after dinner i biked home. temperature by then had dropped down to 25 degrees. i changed into my mittens to keep my fingers warm. it wasn't too bad, but like this morning, i felt a little winded because i haven't biked in a while.
my upstairs neighbors shoveled the sidewalk this morning, sparing me from having to do it. my father came to pick me up at 11am. there was still snow in the trees and all around us cars were driving with snow on their roofs.
the first thing we did when we arrived in belmont was to clear the snow off the solar panels. my father told me he'd already brushed the snow below the panels, all we had to do was push the snow off. it was the light and fluffy type of snow, about 4-6" worth. some of it had already slid off the main room. there was no rush to get it done since today was a cloudy day anyway, so not too much electricity generation even if the panels were cleared.
i cleared the panels on the right side of the house before my father got on the ladder to clear the sunroom panels. i got on the smaller step ladder in front of the sunroom to clear the snow off the edge with the second foam roof rake as soon as my father pushed it there. later we moved to the left side of the house. it was pretty easy work, the hardest part was just constantly re-adjusting the length of the roof rake pole to reach all the areas. afterwards i went around the backyard looking for rabbit tracks. i saw some that might be rabbits but even now i still can't figure out how they get inside. there hasn't been a lot though, not since i blocked the hole i found underneath the eastern fence behind all the ivy ground cover a few months ago.
back inside, my mother made chicken noodles for lunch served with some homemade chinese-style pickled cucumbers. she was also cooking the chicken feet my father and i got from market basket monday night. instead of frying them, she was simply boiling, which is easier but fried chicken feet is the more delicious method. she also used leftover spice packets, not the one i bought especially for chicken feet. when the feet were finally done cooking and i tried one, they were okay, but didn't have the fall-of-the-bone tenderness as fried feet.
later my father took me to the watertown best buy to pick up my new brother HL-L2370DW laser printer. even though the store was open, i opted for curbside pickup. i felt a little bad, seemed kind of rude and impersonal to not pick it up myself. we parked right outside the entrance, in the fire lane. i clicked on the URL in the text they sent me, which brought me to a website to announce i'd arrived and to let them know the type of car and what color. only then did we see the dedicated curbside pickup parking spots. my father wanted to move the car but an employee from the store already came out with the printer in a box. i showed him the confirmation number on my phone, and he put the box in the open trunk, and that was it.
driving back i saw my mother taking her daily walk around the neighborhood. as soon as i got back to the house, i sent my drone from the backyard in search of my mother. i had a idea where she was walking, but because she was wearing a dark jacket, it was hard to see her 400ft from the sky. i wanted to call but my phone was in use by the drone controller, and i didn't want to leave the drone unattended as i went inside to get my father's phone, so i abandoned the idea. instead i did some simple flying before returning home. the DJI fly app did crash on me, locking up the phone up. it even locked up right when i was bringing it down for a landing. that's when i noticed something: even though the app had locked up, i was still able to control the drone. so the signal never breaks, it's still responsive to the controllers, i just can't see the progress on the screen. i was planning on landing it manually, without the use of the DJI fly app or the camera, just do it by visual alone, but was afraid the drone might not land properly, so i took it above the treeline again to wait for the app to come back online. when it did it started making this loud beeping sound. i thought it was doing an automatic return-to-home manuever, but when i checked the screen, the alert was for low power (4-5 minutes worth) and warning me to land the drone soon.
when twilight came around i went back outside for another flight. the sky looked like there might be a colorful sunset. the half-moon was out, i positioned the drone so the two could be super-imposed for a photo. there was some color but not as much as i'd hoped for. i was planning on coming out again later for some blue hour flight, with the landscape illuminated by street lights and house lights, but it was already time for dinner.
my parents made these meat patties stuffed with pork filling and cooked in the electric baking pan. we also had some sweet adzuki bean soup. my mother hurried me to leave so we could drop off some patties at my sister's place on my way home. i was just going to drop them off but my father said i should check out the newly assembled kitchen island. hailey barked at me when i came inside because i was all masked up and had my hood on. the kitchen looks more organized now, it used to be a hoarder's kitchen.
when my father dropped me off i totally forgot about the printer in the trunk until he reminded me. back inside, i tried to revive my old printer one last time, putting in the old toner from my parents' printer. it gave me an toner error light. i found a way to fix it online, and the printer seemed it was printing, but then it gave me a drum error light, along with the clicking sounds when the printer was turned off. i'm still not satisfied, i still think i can save the old printer. i'm going to take one more stab it it - maybe take apart the printer - before calling it quits. it *can* print, i just need to feed the paper manually. but now there's that new drum error and i don't know what that's about.
before i went to bed i set up my macbook pro to run time machine. i've tried backing up a few times over the past few days, it always seems to get stuck. i'm hoping if i leave it running overnight, it'll have enough time to finally finish a backup.
i woke up early again this morning in the hopes that the state might've added new appointment slots in the massvax sites. i should've known something was wrong when i was able to visit the websites without any problems. that's because there were no appointments to be had. i checked the news which confirmed that most of the 70,000 new appointments had all been reserved yesterday. i checked my phone and saw i'd gotten texts at 4am and 5am alerting me to vaccines available at the watertown and cambridge CVS pharmacies. by the time i went to their websites, there were no more available slots. i called my parents to let them know what was going on. my parents' had left for the cafe yet, my mother decided to stay home why my father went on his own.
it'd snow all day, but the amount was nothing more than flurries that there were barely any accumulation. i watched as my upstairs neighbors cleared their car and went out. even though it wasn't snowing a whole lot, it still wasn't ideal driving conditions. it couldn't possibly be a grocery run, so i suspected maybe they left to get vaccinated. i saw steve holding some papers in his hands, maybe driving directions, maybe appointment confirmations, i didn't get a good look. they didn't go out too long, they were back 1-1/2 hours later, empty-handed. steve did shovel the sidewalk before they left, but haphazardly, and i had to clean it up again later in the afternoon.
i signed up for a twitter account today (@tonychabuduo). not that i had any desire to tweet, but i wanted to get notifications on my phone from a vaccine bot that would tweet whenever appointments were available. like how it alerted me in the early afternoon that there were several thousand new appointments for 2/22 at gillette stadium. i was hoping to see appointments for fenway but the only other new slots was at the mohawk trail regional high school about 100 miles away. i also made an account for the cafe, in case we ever want to use it.
i made a matcha latte for lunch. i warmed up a tall glass of milk, poured most of it in a mug, then added a heaping 1/2 tsp of matcha powder to the leftover milk in the glass and mixed everything with the handheld frother before pouring the matcha mix into the rest of the milk. i had some leftover sichuan paocai i needed to finish so i had that for lunch as well. it was a weird mix, fermentation meets antioxidants. later my stomach felt a little weird, made some gurgling noises, that sensation when i eat sour foods on an empty stomach. matcha and paocai would combine forces to cleanse my bowels.
while i was shoveling the snow in the early afternoon, i discovered the snow was coming down as snowflakes, but rather ice needles. typically the temperature has to be pretty cold (23°F) for needles to form, and it wasn't that cold today, but maybe it was higher in the atmosphere.
my mother contacted me in the afternoon, said she was looking for my father. their family friend casey got in touch with them asking if they got the vaccine yet. apparently her daughter found a way to "hack" the massvax website to book appointments. she got her parents signed up along with some family friends, and casey was asking for my parents' info so her daughter could register my parents as well. my father closed the cafe early and sent the info to the daughter. few minutes later both my parents received appointment confirmation letters for fenway park for 3/3. march appointments aren't even visible on the massvax website yet! it sounded too good to be true. if i had to guess, i think they someone figured out by advancing the index number in the URL address, they can book for future appointments. another weird thing is my mother told me the daughter already got her vaccine. when i asked what she did for a living, my mother said she works in a bank. how did a bank employee get vaccinated before most everyone else? regardless, my mother still asked me to keep on checking for open appointments that are earlier. but if i can't find any, at least they'll get vaccinated in march.
in the afternoon i went to star market to pick up some clementines and potato chips. later i had to go back when i realized they double charged me for the chips. if it was a couple of cents i wouldn't care, but there was a $4 difference, so i went to clear it up.
i finished watching season 1 of dream on. i remember a few details, like martin's girlfriend nina (julie carmen) who appeared in several episodes before she got sent to jail for ecoterrorism.
for dinner i reheated the last of my leftover century egg pork bone congee. the trick is to heat it so it turns from a porridge-like sludge to a liquified soup. only then does all the ingredients meld together, becoming greater than the sum of its parts, and tastes a lot better.
i woke up before my phone alarm clock could go off at 7:45am to visit the vaxfinder.mass.gov website to book covid-19 vaccine appointments for my parents. i had my laptop by the night table so i could work from bed without getting up. the governor said in a statement yesterday that 70,000 new appointments would be available online starting at 8am for the nearly 1 million MA residents 65+ who now newly qualify for the vaccine.
so i wasn't surprised at all when i couldn't even open the website this morning, with probably every single eligible person in the state visiting the address all at the same time. the URL would either just hang there or i'd get an error message. i also visited a few other vaccine aggregators, vaccinatema.com and www.macovidvaccines.com being just two of them. unlike the official state site, they were still operating. i saw there were a handful of open appointments at the boston medical center for 2/22, but that's a really sketchy part of town and not easily accessible by public transportation. there was a single opening at the price chopper supermarket in sutton for 2/20, although i didn't even know where sutton was. i was also on the /r/coronavirusMA subreddit, getting tips from people successful in getting an appointment, or reading other gripes about how terrible the MA online response to the vaccination has been.
so it was like that for the rest of the morning. sometimes i'd be able to get into the vaxfinder website, only to encounter an error page when i advanced to the next page. at one point i was trying to snag a single available appointment at fenway, and even managed to fill out the basic info form page, before it gave me an error on the next page.
later when i finally got out of bed, i hooked up my macbook pro to an external monitor so i could keep track of all my vaccine websites on its own dedicated screen. periodically, through out the day, i'd refresh the websites, hoping to see updates. the top story of the noontime news broadcast was how nobody could access the state vaccine website this morning.
at one point several thousand appointments were available at gillette stadium, and my mother called to ask me to book appointments for them. but i told them to hold off, that fenway hadn't opened up yet, and fenway park was a lot closer than foxborough stadium. in hindsight that turned out to be a mistake because fenway never did open up with appointments. or i might've missed the window, because i refreshed the website again around 3pm, there were several hundred slots, but when i tried to book an appointment, i couldn't get through. as for the gillette openings, after 15-20 minutes they were all gone, like a piranha feeding frenzy of folks trying to get a vaccine appointment, makes black friday shopping pale by comparison.
i was so worried about missing appointments when they became available, that i was afraid to use the bathroom, afraid to shower, afraid to do anything else other than be in front of the computer. i quickly made a matcha latte for lunch and ate some cold cereal. i went out briefly to star market before 3pm to get some bacon and potato chips (which unfortunately also seemed to be the exact time fenway appointments became available, so i missed my window).
only by the time i watched the late evening news at 11pm did i hear that nearly all 70,000 appointments had been booked, despite the vaccination website being wonky for most of the day. i have to wait until next thursday morning for the grab bag of available appointments, and that's not a certainty either since that shipment of vaccine is stuck in the south due to the bad weather (governor baker was thinking about sending in the MA national guards to pick up those vaccines).
when i wasn't refreshing the vaccination website, i watched some law & order marathons on tv. i must've watched 3 different series: regular L&O, L&O:CI, and my goto L&O:SVU.
around 4pm it started to snow. the accumulation amount keeps on getting lowered: even though it's going to be a long duration now, it looks to be only 2-4" when things are all done by saturday morning.
i tried backing up my computer via time machine. there was 46GB worth of data to back up because i haven't backed up since december 1st. of course it took forever, and i finally had to stop it after it seemed to be stuck at the 20GB mark for several hours. i'll continue the backup tomorrow.
i retroactively processed some photos but i haven't added them to the blog yet. i have about a week's worth of backlog.
for dinner i had a large bowl of leftover century egg congee. the secret is to cook the congee until it liquifies. i think when i had bad congee the last time, it was because the rice porridge was still congealed. mixed with the stink of century eggs, that's an unappetizing combination.
i finished the evening by watching the second episode of clarice on CBS. i really like it, it's one of my favorite new shows now. i like that they're not doing the serial killer of the week route, and instead going with everyday common criminals that the FBI gets involved in. tonight it was militia cultists and female human trafficking.