i had a nightmare last night where the monarch butterfly failed to develop properly. i was relieved when i woke up and realized it was only a dream. the first thing i did early this morning was to check up on the monarch. surprisingly, it was still in the chrysalis, though now the shell was entirely transparent.
i then spent the next 2 hours photographing the final stage of the chrysalis. it wasn't easy to get a good exposure as the pupa was completely black at this point with orange and white spots on the visible wings. at one point i moved my whole photo setup into the living room as it was brighter than the kitchen. i accidentally knocked the lid off the perch of jars, the chrysalis clattering onto the coffee table. had my nightmare come true? i quickly picked up the lid with chrysalis, inspecting it for damage. i saw none. i then moved everything back into the kitchen was it was easy to work from the countertop. that's when i saw it: the papery clear shell on one side of the chrysalis was broken. frantically i looked for some of additional damages. the chrysalis wasn't oozing any liquids, which was a good sign. other than the shell - which was due to come off at any moment now - the butterfly seemed fine. but it did leave me worried, that i possibly killed another monarch butterfly.
as i couldn't be monitoring the chrysalis every second waiting for the butterfly to hatch, i decided to rig up a time lapse camera to capture the event in case i missed it. i'd thought of it a few days ago, and originally i was going to use my SJ4000 action camera, but the field of view was too wide and the chrysalis appeared too small. plus the quality wasn't the greatest.
fortunately i had a second option: my oneplus one phone. i experimented with the time lapse video feature when i first got the OPO. the only limitation on the built-in camera app was that the screen would still be on, thereby draining the battery. so i went in search of a better third-party app. there were a lot of free time lapse apps in the google play store, but all of them were crippleware of some sort. i finally decided on framelapse, spending $2.99 for the pro version that allowed me to sleep the screen while it was shooting. i'd only discover later that sleep mode only dimmed the screen, so it was still draining the battery, just not as quickly. fortunately i had a portable 6000mAh battery pack i could use (though i could've just plugged the phone into a wall charger instead, though the battery pack gave me more mobility).
i woke up early just to check and see if the chrysalis had turned into a butterfly yet. when i saw it was still green - not even at the final transparent stage yet - i went back to bed. that would mean that the butterfly would most likely arrive tomorrow morning, during the most intense part of tropical storm jose.
it was not as rainy this morning as i'd imagined. in fact, it was currently dry, which prompted me to take the opportunity to walk down to the somerville rite aid to pick up my prescriptions. i brought an umbrella just in case. there was the lightest of misting, not enough to warrant using the umbrella.
after soaking overnight, the dried white hominy didn't look all that different. i finally got around to putting it in the slowcooker by around 11:30am. i didn't know how much water to add, but i remember reading something about adding 2 in. of water above the hominy so that was the rule i followed. if it really was going to expand, it would definitely need all that water to do so. i decided to cook the hominy 2 hours on high before cooking an additional 4 hours on low.
with li set to return from hawaii at 2pm, i had one last thing i needed to do with was to clean the aquarium, something i promised him i'd do before he got back. not that he thought it was dirty and was complaining, but he's pushing me to get some fish instead of just having an empty plant tank, and i think adding some fish will definitely help with the java ferns, which haven't been thriving ever since i stopped keeping fish. i started cleaning at 11:30am and didn't finish until an hour later. there was a layer of algae film covering the bottom of the tank. it was too thick to suck up with the water vacuum, so i had to scoop out the goop with my hand before i could siphon the water out. i ended up removing nearly all the water, as it was simply too dirty.
i had a chobani blueberry yogurt for lunch along with a strawberry fruit juice banana smoothie. i ate while watching episode 2 of the deuce on HBO streaming. it feels so much like the wire, since it's produced by the same showrunners and features many of the same actors. it's a good show, but i wouldn't recommend it for everyone, as it talks about the beginning of the porn industry, a very adult subject matter.
my father stopped by in the afternoon unexpectedly. he brought along the two cobra brand two-way radios that one of my grand uncle's tenants left behind some years ago. they never worked, and we were suspecting that maybe it was left behind because they were simply broken. one of the radio does work, transmits and receives, and can also get NOAA weather channels. the other never worked. but my father managed to figure out that GMRS channel 1 on the baofeng radio corresponds to channel 17 on one of the cobra radios but channel 15 on the other.
as it began to grow later and later, i started to wonder where li was. was his flight delayed? did he decide to stay additional days in hawaii? i sent him a text message but he didn't respond right away, so i assumed he was on a flight. hours later he finally wrote back, said he was coming back tomorrow at 2pm, not today. when i saw his itinerary it must've been hawaiian time, which means he leaves hawaii sometime today, but wouldn't arrive until tomorrow. so it looks like i have another free day!
even after cooking on high heat in the slowcooker, the hominy didn't show any changes. i started to wonder if i got the right kind of hominy. but when i checked the hominy again with just an hour left before it was finished cooking (low heat), i was surprised that each corn kernel had finally expanded to about 4x it's original size. it was pretty amazing. the expanded kernels reminded me of boba tapioca balls if they were white. i tasted a few, relatively tasteless (i didn't add any salt to the water as some instructions said it'd inhibit expansion) but with the slight hint of corn flavor. making hominy from dried corn kernels is a real labor of love. after it finally finished cooking, i split the portions, half to be used in my mexican chicken soup, half to be frozen to be used at some future date.
* making mexican chicken soup
while getting a cooking pot i noticed what looked to be either flour grains or maybe tiny white mold growing on the pots. while trying to figure out what it was, i suddenly noticed the white dots were actually moving. they're alive! grossed out, i ended up taking all my pots and washing them. they seem to be coming from that area of the kitchen. i never noticed them before, and i think i must've disturbed something when i rifled through the empty bin looking for aquarium cleaning equipment. they weren't termites, too small. maybe baby spiders? but i looked at one with a magnifying loupe and it didn't look very spidery. after a web search, i think they're most likely (harmless) mold mites. but i don't have a mold problem! and that area of the house doesn't have any water pipes so it couldn't be moisture related. whatever it is, if it is indeed mold mites, once winter arrives and i turn on the heat, it will be too dry inside the house for mold to grow and the mites will simply die.
there was simply no way i could release the monarch butterfly tomorrow, knowing what the weather would be like. besides the rain, there would be strong winds, and temperature in the 60's. so i decided to keep it indoors after it emerges, and release it thursday morning when the storm blows offshore. i have several empty aquarium tanks in my basement but i ended up using something better: an acrylic pastry display box my father gave me a while back for growing plants but i never used it. take out the trays and it's a tall clear box, perfect for temporarily holding a butterfly. i also read that newly emerged butterflies typically don't feed in the first 24 hours. hopefully that'll buy me some time for a thursday morning release.
my last remaining chrysalis did not open overnight, which is a relief, which means i didn't miss the part where the chrysalis becomes completely transparent (that's my favorite part). however, with tropical storm irma approaching boston tuesday (tomorrow) and wednesday, this will mean cattwo will emerge didn't the middle of the storm and i'm worried about her chances of survival. there's a sense of deja vu, as the first time i raised monarch butterflies i also had two, one of them surviving to maturity, the other dying in a tragic falling accident before it could fully dry.
as it'd be raining the next two days, i biked to market basket for some groceries while the weather was still dry. i decided i'm making mexican chicken soup tomorrow. i already had canned chicken stock and black beans in the cupboard, but i needed additional ingredients: chicken breast ($3.76), sleeve of garlic ($1.99), cilantro ($1.29), vidalia onion (56¢), frozen corn (99¢), goya chipotle peppers ($1.89), 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes (99¢). i also got some ingredients for making smoothies: bananas ($1.21), orange mango juice ($1.89), frozen strawberries 2 lbs. ($2.99). i made a list and managed to buy every single items, coming in just under a dozen so i could use the express checkout lane.
margot's getting her front porch redone and the contractors have all their equipment on the sidewalk, including the entrance to my backyard. i had to ask a painter on the ladder to let me get across so i could put my bicycle away.
trying to get in some more errands on this dry day, i next rode the motorcycle to the memorial drive microcenter via cental square, to buy a raspberry pi zero w on sale (the new version with built-in wifi, thereby freeing up a valuable usb port). it began to mist, which normally wouldn't be a big deal, but my windshield became covered in rain drops that i couldn't see, and the fine layer of moisture on the road made it potentially slippery so i rode extra careful, keeping my speed low and making slow turns. the misting was intermittent, and stopped by the time i got to microenter.
when i got to the hobby electronics department, i saw they had a large bin of regular pi zeros for $5, but the bin for pi zero w was completely empty. i came too late! there must've been a spree of electronic hobbyists getting their hands on this cheap mini computer. fortunately i asked one of the clerks who surprised me when he said they actually did have more pi zero w's. so i followed him to the other side of the store. he said i could wait in line while he fetched it for me. minutes later i was paying for my pi0w ($5).
afterwards i went next door to trader joe's to pick up some cheap wine (sauvignon blanc) for cooking. there was a bit of urgency after learning recently that the memorial drive trader joe's is losing their liquor license. fortunately the new trader joe's at the assembly square mall in somerville sells wine as well (i am about equidistant to 3 different trader joe's: fresh pond, memorial drive, assembly square).
my returning trip was much drier than my going trip. i left soon after i got home, leaving for belmont. conditions were wet enough that i didn't need to water the grass patches, and the overcast sky kept evaporation to a minimum.
when my parents returned home around 4pm, my father and i went outside to pour bonide stump out granules (sodium metabisulfite) into the holes we drilled into the tree stump yesterday. i accidentally took a sniff and the granules (more like a fine powder) had a strong acrid smell that made me turn quickly away. the opaque packaging is misleading as the container is only half full. direction said to add 3-4 oz. per hole but we couldn't figure out how much that was, so we just divided the powder equally to all the holes (about a dozen) plus a large naturally decomposing hole near the center of the stump. instructions said to water afterwards but we didn't bother as it was going to be raining tomorrow.
* digging out another flash (pixel X-650)
before i went to bed i took a few more snapshots of the chrysalis. some more pigmentation, but i'm not sure if she'll come out tomorrow morning. if not tuesday, then definitely wednesday morning, which will be the worst of the storm. beginning tomorrow morning at 7am it's going to be pretty much raining until wednesday 5pm.
judging by how i was wrong with my prediction on when catone would emerge from her chrysalis, there could be a chance cattwo will emerge tomorrow morning. developmental wise the two caterpillars are about 3 days apart. cattwo's chrysalis is already showing some darkening; not as transparent as bruce's chrysalis, but very similar to how catone was before it emerged. so just to be safe, i perched the chrysalis lid onto two jars in case the butterfly does emerge tomorrow, it will have room to expand her wings. most likely it won't eclose until tuesday morning, when it will have to contend with the start of tropical storm jose grazing by new england.
i got out of bed 10am this morning and already missed the show: bruce's monarch butterfly had emerged from her chrysalis overnight and was drying herself on the jar lid. fortunately i had the foresight to set up the lid last night just in case the butterfly did emerge, so it wouldn't be trapped inside the jar.
the monarch was pretty active, as it was crawling all over the lid (top and bottom), which meant it probably emerged hours ago (note to self: maybe for the next chrysalis set up a time lapse camera to capture the eclosion. but her wings were still wet and she hadn't dried yet. i let her crawl on my hand and gently put her outside on a rhododendron bush, so that after she finished drying she could fly away. i thought it was ironic that after spending a month raising monarch caterpillars, the first butterfly i see wouldn't be my own but one of bruce's. still, it's like having a bonus monarch, and you can never have too much. i was also glad to see that the butterfly was a female, based on the observation of the special cleft on the developing chrysalis.
this morning i was trying to take a good photo for my taiwanese-citizen china visa card upgrade. my 2nd aunt is going to taiwan for a month next week and she can bring my old visa passport so it can get replaced. but i need a new updated passport-style photo. i've done it in the past, rigging up a mini photo studio with a white backboard and camera plus flash on a tripod. i've taken it from the bathroom, from the kitchen, from the living room, basically anywhere in the house that already has some natural light.
just so happens it was kind of dark this morning, and there really was no good spot, so i ended up doing it in the kitchen, the poster board taped to the fridge, me kneeling on the ground dressed in my shirt and tie. initially it was just a single flash bounced from the ceiling but the lower half of my face was too dark so i used a secondary flash bouncing upwards near the floor. it still wasn't ideal, but i was pressed for time, and i wasn't looking for perfection. i took more than 50 photos and finally settled on one.
in the past i've printed out DIY passport photos at the nearest staples, but the quality has always been lacking, the colors overly saturated and muddy, not photo quality at all. but i realized that nowadays a lot of pharmacies have gotten into the photo printing business. i know CVS does them but but so does walgreens, so i downloaded their app to give them a try. it was pretty easy and i didn't even have to pay. at just 33¢ for a 6x4" photo i could fit 6 visa photos. there's even a coupon for using their app so i ended up only pay 23¢ (no minimum purchase requirement). i sent it in the order at 1:30pm, ready to pick up at 2:50pm.
i took the motorcycle to belmont. with all that rain we received last night courtesy of remnants of hurricane irma, i didn't really need to water the grass. my primary reason for being there was to eat some leftover pizza for lunch. i ended up watering the lawn patches afterwards anyway, as some spots looked dry. i also uprooted a large crabgrass infestation and patched that whole area, putting up tomato cages as barriers to prevent hailey from accidentally walking through, though it can't stop the squirrels from digging up the patches. elsewhere, a single cupcake cosmo has finally blossomed. i planted a whole bunch this season but they were all eaten up by rabbits and slugs. they look so pretty, next season i may start them indoors first before transplanting them.
i left belmont around 3pm and went to the somerville walgreens to pick up my photo. the print itself is excellent, much better than i could've imagined, but the photo i picked to use wasn't very good when i took a closer look: my head is slightly turned so one of my ears is nearly missing. i think i choose that one because i'm slightly smiling, while all the other photos i have a very serious face. i will need to choose another photo to print.
instead of shooting a new photo, i picked another one from the 50+ i took earlier. one problem was i was wearing a white shirt (actual pale blue but looks white with the flash lighting), and one of the rules for a china visa photo is no white shirts (later photos i changed into a blue shirt). after adjusting the tilt of my head (my head was slightly crooked) and making the background completely white, i tinted the color of the shirt blue with a mask overlay. i also edited out a bit of glare in the glasses from a flash diffuser. if i had more time i'd shoot a new photo, with better lighting. also you can't tell from the size of the photo print, but the sharpness could be better; as far as i know there's no way to autofocus when shooting remotely on the canon 60D, so i had to focus on something beforehand and then hope that when i step in front of the lens the image will be in focus.
* monarch chrysalis darken some more, beginning to clearly see monarch butterfly inside
* unexpected downpours again, my converse sneakers drying outside from getting wet yesterday once again soaked
ECSB finally contacted us today regarding our mass solar loan application with a request for a birthday validation for my mother because her credit score didn't come up when they ran her birthdate. i brought my canon scanner to belmont so i could scan her driver license as proof.
my mother wanted to visit the waltham OSJL to check out their yarn on sale. because my father didn't want to go, i was elected to drive her. it was a quick visit as it was getting late in the day and we didn't want to get stuck in traffic coming back. they removed most of their summer stock, including most gardening equipment; all that's left were tools, some pest control products, and a display of autumn-planting perennial bulbs. i left with a new box of tea, the first of the season (yogi tea original $3.50). once the weather officially turns cold i will be drinking nothing but teas for the next few months.
what i thought was a bottle gourd flower turns out to be a moonflower instead. i forgot i planted a few, must've escaped detection, matured enough now for some blooms. moonflowers look just like large morning glories except the flowers are all white and they only open at nights, pollinated by moths.
my father and i looked at adapters to connect the SMA (male) connector of the baofeng radio to his old CB antenna. after some research we discovered the CB uses an UHF PL259 SO239 connector. i also showed him the heavy duty power drill on sale at harbor freight and he agreed we needed one for our ongoing tree stump removal project.
with no roommate around until next tuesday, i wasn't in any hurry to get back home. it's getting darker earlier every day now, sunset around 7pm.
my paocai has begun to float. that gap at the bottom means i could've stuffed even more vegetables into the jar (although i just had enough to fill both). there doesn't seem to be enough brine as it appears dry on the top, but in my experience the brine level will eventually rise as the gases push the liquid upwards.
by the time i went to bed last night it was already well past 3am. with li leaving at 4:30am and me waking up before that to make sure his taxi shows up, i ended up not sleeping at all. he was surprised to find me watching morning news in the living room when he finished his shower. i told him i hadn't slept yet. the taxi company sent me a text at 4:15am saying the driver was almost here. this was new, in an attempt to be more tech savvy to compete with drive shares. the message also advertised their phone app. at 4:20am the taxi was already waiting outside. it was cold this early in the morning, barely 60°F with dew forming on the surface of cars glistening from the led street lights. li gathered up his travel suitcase and backpack and left. i immediately went to bed. at 5am li texted me to let me know he was already in the waiting lounge; he got there so quickly because the taxi arrived 10 minutes early and there was zero traffic heading into the airport so early in the morning.
i slept about 5 hours, waking up at 10am, not well rested, but enough to get through the day. my project for today was to make some sichuan paocai. i researched my notes but found surprisingly few details about how i made it the last few times. sichuan paocai is easier to make than korean kimchi, as it doesn't stink as much and not as messy. besides the vegetables (cabbage, radish, carrots, ginger, chili peppers), the only other main ingredients are water, salt, sugar, chinese baijiu, and sichuan peppercorns.
it's been a while, and i forgot how much water i needed. i did boil two 1.5 L container of water with the electric kettle last night and left it to cool overnight. the water needs to be boiled to make sure its sterile and nothing bad will grow in the fermenation jar. but 3 L of water would still not be enough since the fido jars i was using each can hold 5 L of liquid. the smarter thing to do would be to fill one fido jar and boil that amount of water. then there was the question if i should boil more, as i needed to fill two 5 L jars. but with the displacement created when i add the vegetable ingredients, 5 L (or 18 cups) would be enough.
good thing i needed more water because i had to reboil the water from last night anyway because i forgot one crucial step: it's not just water i'm preparing, but salted water - brine - for the sichuan paocai. i could've added the salt to the cold water, but since i needed to boil the added water anyway, and since salt dissolves better in hot water, might as well do everything at once. how much salt should i add? fortunately from my notes there was a mention of the ratio of salt to water: 1 oz. of salt for every 3 cups of boiled water. so in this case 18 cups of water would require 6 oz. of salt (3/4 cup).
what type of salt? it really doesn't matter as i was dissolving it in boiling water anyway. i typically stay away from iodized salt when i'm fermenting, but i don't think it makes any difference, though some people swear it affects the fermentation or at the very least changes the color of the final product (for the worse). as the price difference is fairly negligible, i stick with non-iodized salt. just so happens i also have special sichuan paocai salt i got when i was in changshou last year. i came across it when i was browsing the supermarket, collecting specialty ingredients to bring back home. i remember the sales ladies there almost laughing at me for spending money on special salts for paocai, since they just use regular salt for their own vegetable fermentation. that was my thinking as well, but maybe they add special additives in the salt specifically for making paocai. in any case, it was worth trying, so i bought 3 240g (8.5 oz) packets (much to the chagrine of my luggage, because salt can be quite heavy).
reading the content listing on the sichuan paocai salt package, there are just two ingredients: 精制盐 (refined salt) and 亚铁氰化钾 (potassium ferrocyanide). potassium ferrocyanide? i saw the word cyanide, which can't be a good thing. they even included the chemical formula [Fe(CN)6]4- and said there was less than 10mg per kg of salt. maybe this was the secret ingredient that makes sichuan paocai salt so special. so i looked up this chemical online, thinking it was some kind of magical taste enhancing compound, and discovered that potassium ferrocyanide is simply a harmless anticaking agent. so in fact there is nothing special about sichuan paocai salt. but the fact that i bought it back thousands of miles from changshou does make it special. and the salt crystals are bigger for some reason, at least compared to regular morton salt.
i reboiled 18 cups of water with the special sichuan paocai salt added. 1 240g package turns out to be almost exactly 6 oz. of salt, which is the amount i needed. the chinese instruction says to add 1-2 packets (6-12 oz.) for every 12-19 cups of water, which is about the salt ratio i had of 1 oz. of salt per 3 cups of water. the water didn't actually need to be boiling; once it was smoking, i turned off the stove to let it cool in the stockpot.
i went to the cafe in the afternoon to pick up some carrots for the paocai. i told my father that i ordered an SDR and it'd arrive by tomorrow (wednesday). i then went to belmont to water the garden and the lawn, doing a bit of weeding as well. i was there for 45 minutes doing yard work before leaving. back at home, i parked the motorcycle and walked down to the community garden. is it wrong to say that i'm done with gardening for the season? i just want to clean out my plot. there are still some small eggplants which i doubt will mature given our cool nights, and a bunch of green habaneros, a few of which are only now showing some orange colors. the only reason why i go down there these days is to tag a few pokestops. i picked up bruce's monarch chrysalis on the way back (he's off on vacation in france tomorrow, won't be back until october; earlier i showed him how to sex his chrysalis by looking for a telltale notch on the pupa). i watered the front yard of my house when i noticed a few seedlings that could be either foxgloves or larkspurs (or both).
the brine was still pretty hot so i decided to put the stockpot in an ice bath to speed up the cooling process. i'd never done that before and it seems to work pretty well, turning the brine cold in 2 hours. about 5:30pm i finally began to make the sichuan paocai.
sichuan paocai (四川泡菜)
(2x 5L fido jars)
8 lbs. chinese cabbage
2.24 lbs. daikon radish
1.37 lbs. carrots
3 oz. ginger
4 dozen thai chili peppers
18 cups boiled water
6 oz. paocai salt*
handful sichuan peppercorns
1 cup chinese baijiu
8 tbsp rock sugar
sichuan paocai spices**
* regular salt is okay too (as long as it's iodine free though i don't think it matters; i personally prefer fine salt) ** you will not be able to find sichuan paocai spices (though you could mix your own), i just had some from my trip to chongqing last year
as far as steps, you could argue that both korean kimchi and sichuan paocai present their own challenges, but i find sichuan paocai easier to make. with korean kimchi, there's a salt reduction step for the cabbage, followed by food processing some additional ingredients, then the mixing (wear gloves, can be messy, and the hot chili pepper flakes can irritate your skin), and allowing the jarred kimchi to ferment out in the open for a few days. with sichuan paocai, one challenge is finding a suitable container (a fermentation crock is ideal, i've discovered fido jars are make great fermenters). that's followed by creating the brine, then packing all the vegetables into the container. fermentation takes place inside the container, and though it will leak slightly, there is almost no smell (that is until you open the container for inspection and even then the smell is not as strong as korean kimchi).
i prepared the vegetable ingredients: peeled then diced the daikon radish, the carrots, and the ginger; quartered the chinese cabbage, then cut them into smaller cubes so i can stuff them into the fido jar. i added the ingredients in layers, a layer of cabbage, a layer of radish/carrot/ginger, then repeat again, sprinkling hot chili peppers and sichuan peppercorns between layers.
something else new i was trying this time was a package of sichuan paocai spices i got in changshou at the same place i bought the salts. this is totally extra, as traditional paocai doesn't need these additional spices, but i was curious to try these extra flavors: star anise, fennel seeds, dried chili, orange peel, black cardamom (Amomum tsao-ko 草果), chinese parsley seeds, sichuan peppercorns (prickly ash), regular peppercorns, and dried hawthorn berry. the combination smells nice, the parsley seeds especially strong. a scan code in the back of the package even takes you to an online sichuan paocai recipe (in chinese). i didn't read the instructions, which said to boil the spices first and let it steep overnight before adding to the paocai. hopefully the spices will still penetrate the brine without boiling. i bought 3 packets but only use one packet for one of the jars, the 2nd jar just original paocai flavor.
i wasn't shy about packing the vegetables into the jar as tightly as possible. i did have a lot of cabbage and was afraid i'd have extra, but surprised i managed to get everything into the 2 jars. i began adding the liquids, carefully measuring by cups so i knew how much i was using and how much left over for the 2nd jar. i managed to fill the jar with exactly 9 cups (half of the brine) plus half a cup of chinese baijiu. at one point in pressed my fist into the vegetables to push it down, which turned out to be a mistake, as my skin hurt afterwards from the combination of salty brine, 50% chinese baijiu alcohol content, and 2 dozen hot chili peppers.
after i filled the two fido jars, i still had a little bit of brine left over, which i saved, in case i needed to add more liquid to the paocai. i was finally finished by around 6:50pm, more than an hour later after i started. the sichuan paocai should be ready to eat in about a week.
i wasn't very hungry for some reason (must've been that whole bag of chinese licorice watermelon seeds i ate), so didn't have dinner until late, around 9pm, when i heated up some ready-made refrigerated chicken prosciutto raviolis with my homemade tomato sauce. i ate while watching a download of baby driver on my HDTV.
someone from cuseum contacted me this evening expressing an interest in talking. they do museum interactives on portable devices, which seems right up my alley, although i don't know too much about iOS. nevertheless, i'll get in touch with them tomorrow to find out more.
amazon sent me e-mail, said my SDR won't arrive until thursday. this has been going on a few times, not receiving my items within the 2-day delivery limit despite being an amazon prime member. amazon does a sneaky thing where it gaslights me by erasing all records of a wednesday delivery so now when i check everything says thursday, despite it being obvious more than 2 days. i heard if you complain amazon gives you an extra free month of amazon prime.
li texted me around 2:20am to let me know he was already at his hotel in hilo, 8:20pm hawaiian time. he said the place was pretty good, a very big room. tomorrow morning he will have some time to visit the beach which is right next to the hotel, before making his way up mauna kea.
i rode down to the east cambridge savings bank main branch late this morning. it was a bit of a pain ever since they banned making left turns from beacon street (heading south) to cambridge street (heading east). i had to go a few streets down to prospect street before i was able to make a left turn. i went to ECSB to see if i could get any info why we haven't heard back from them regarding the mass solar loan despite filling out an online application the thursday (august 31st) before labor day weekend (11 days ago). i spoke with john, who seemed to be the only person working in the loan department. i called a list of people but nobody picked up (they were all at a meeting). he ended up taking my information and said he'd call me back with more info.
returning home was a pain as well as there was construction on outbound half of beacon street. i ended up taking a long detour onto kirkland and irving, cutting through the harvard divinity school and the biochemistry laboratory, on my way to the community garden for some watering. i stayed longer than originally planned, first picking some vegetables, followed by weeding and watering. while examining my plants i heard an incessant tsking sound. i saw a tiny little olive grey colored bird with white rings around its eyes hopping through my garden neighbor's wooden tomato cages. i tried to take a photo but only had my iphone (bring my dSLR next time). it was a blue-grey gnatcatcher, which i'd never seen before, my first sighting. i also spotted a male monarch feeding on a zinnia flower.
i finally returned home by 12:45pm, where i had some yogurt and granola for lunch. jon called me back, said they received the application. i couldn't quite understand what he was telling me over the phone, but it seems they correctly switched it to a mass solar loan application and would send my parents e-mails with additional info requests. these solar loan applications are taking forever. we also never heard back from naveo, even though my father was sure they'd contact us last week. in my meantime my father has a new obsession, and spends all his time reading and researching amateur radio.
i went to belmont to water my grass patches and to weed out some more crabgrass. it's going to take some time to completely eradicate crabgrass from the lawn but as long as the weather is nice and i spent a little time every day pulling them out, eventually i'll get them under control. i noticed the patches on the front lawn have already sprouted some grass seedlings. the backyard patches are taking longer, as some of the older patches i neglected to water daily and they dried up, and the newer patches are not yet a week old. but i'm patient, if nothing germinates, i'll just put down a new layer of patch.
my parents returned home with hailey while i was out watering the front lawn. my father tried to drill a hole in the backyard tree stump with a 14-in long 1-in diameter auger bit but made no progress, the bit seems to be too dull to bit down into the hard stump wood.
li was home when i got back around 7:15pm, a pot of rice porridge cooking on the stove, a load of laundry running in the washer. i helped him reserve a taxi for early tomorrow morning, 4:30am, for his flight to seattle then hawaii. while taking down some ingredients for making sichuan paocai, i noticed all the fido jars and glass vases on top of the kitchen cabinet were caked in oil. i brought them all down so i could wash them. at first i used just some dish soap and a non-scratching scouring pad, but the grease was stubborn and no amount of scrubbing could clean it properly. i ended up fishing out a new brillo pad from a box under the sink and that managed to take care of it.
li also discovered that his phone wasn't working. when he tried to test call my number, he got a weird message from his carrier (a subsidiary of china telecom here in the US providing cheap phone and data service for oversea chinese). when i called him back he was able to receive the call. when i texted him yesterday he was able to get my message just fine, but when i texted him the address of the caribbean parade photos, he never received them. he checked his phone account online and turns out they actually suspended his service for non-payment, even though he had it set up to automatically withdraw from his bank account. turns out that information had been cleared out for some reason, and autopayment wasn't working, even though he swore it worked the past few months. anyway, he paid online and immediately his phone began working again.
i gave li a slideshow on my HDTV of a bunch of photos i took with my 3D fuji camera. it's kind of a party trick and not that useful but li was very impressed with the technology.