after having had to get up early over the past two days (one day was for the parade, the other day was to shovel snow), today was the first day where i could sleep late so i took advantage of it, not waking up until almost 10:30am. sandy was gone by then, the house a chilly 59°F since the nest thermostat put itself into away mode.
it was a sunny day and i was glad to see that the solar production had already peaked at 6kW. apparently all that ice on the panels melted after all. ironically, i could see my neighbors' solar panels were still partially covered in snow (because they can't clean it like we can).
for lunch i had some yogurt with granola. in the afternoon i was trying to work up my low temperature endurance so i could brave the cold outside and go pick up my prescriptions then head to market basket. i finally left a bit after 2:30pm. there were piles of frozen snow in the bike lanes on certain spots, but for the most part the streets were navigable. i wore my helmet anyway, just in case i should slip and fall. i went to pick up my prescription at ride aid and also got some pistachios and cough drops on sale. i also got a bag of pecan on sale, for my pie recipe. it was relatively quiet at market basket, i came away with $40 worth of groceries, including ingredients for a quiche i'm making tomorrow night.
we made 36.45kWh today. when i compared the graph to the standard, i could see that we lost a little bit in the morning as the sun was melting the ice on the panels. it happened quick though, and by 9:30am we were already on track.
my new real ID driver license arrived today. security-wise, it seems similar to the old ID, but i guess its specialty lies in the background check beforehand. the photo of course is not very flattering, with my winter fat face. good news is i get to renew the license again in 5 years, so try to do better next time.
sandy back by 5:30pm and started making dinner immediately. at 6:30pm she went to go take a shower, so i figured she was done with dinner, but afterwards i heard her being busy in the kitchen once more. apparently she left something stewing on the stove and was finally ready to eat. she in the kitchen by 7:30pm, while i reheated my porkchops from sunday along with a small bowl of supplemental salad. i figured she'd relocate into the living room but she didn't because she chatted with kelvin briefly, but finally did some out after she was done with dinner by 8pm.
i woke up at 8:30am for a day of president's day shoveling. the snow fell silently overnight, and would continue throughout the rest of the day, though most of the accumulation was already finished. there wasn't too much snow, just a few inches, and the light fluffy kind, since this was the first snow we had this season where it didn't transition to rain and sleet afterwards. after i used the bathroom, i got dressed and went outside to clear the sidewalk. people had already trampled through the snow, but even compacted it was still light enough that all it took was some gentle pushing for me to clean the sidewalk in a few minutes. i also shoveled into the backyard. i finally left by around 9:15am, walking to the cafe to meet up with my father by 9:30am. i left the heat on for sandy, who wasn't going into work today, and probably wouldn't be up until after 10am.
i didn't get to the cafe until 9:40am, right when my father was coming out of his meeting with the accountant. my parents decided to close the store today, partly because of president's day, partly because of the snow. while my father started with the snowblower from the back of my sister's place, i went to the parking lot to clear the edges (the areas where the plow truck can't get to) with a shovel. my sister was busy clearing out her car. at one point my father spoke with a contractor who said his crew would be willing to clear the snow for us in the future at $120/snowstorm. we finished in under 40 minutes, afterwards i went with my father back to belmont.
my father didn't shovel the house before he left but our next door neighbor cleared the sidewalk for us with his snowblower. while we were gone, my mother did a little shoveling herself, clearing the path to the house. my father and i spent a few minutes clearing the driveway before we moved to the back of the house to clean the snow off of the solar panels.
the snow rake made easy work of the snow on the panels. there was several inches of snow, but so light we simply brushed it off. temperature was hovering around freezing so actually the bottom layer of snow was slightly melted, making it even easier for the snow to slide off on the slick surface. we were finished a bit after 11am and went inside for lunch.
the snow also gave me a chance to figure out how rabbits were getting into the backyard. unfortunately the only tracks i saw belonged to a squirrel, but it did help me to locate a gap at the bottom of a fence where critters might be getting in so i plugged it up with a piece of brick. maybe the rabbits were waiting out the storm and might show up later.
i made some more changes to the LLC spreadsheet. my father said the accountant needed the credit transactions to categorized (supplies, repairs, etc.) in order to see what can and can't be tax deductible. there was no easy way to do it without going through each transaction and deciding what category it fits into. i made it easier by creating a popup selection in the cells. we also discovered my sister had been eating at more expensive restaurants than previously realized, racking up a bill of $2000 just last year.
i went out again after 4pm, after it snowed enough earlier in the afternoon for some additional accumulation. it wasn't much, less than a quarter of an inch, but our clear solar panels were now covered again. the snowflakes were also very distinctive, large and puffy. working by myself, i easily cleaned off the snow, though there was signs of melting and freezing such that the bottom parts of the panels were covered in a rough thin layer of ice that couldn't be removed. hopefully the forecast of sun tomorrow will make short work of the ice.
for dinner my parents grilled some t-bone steaks on the stove. afterwards my father gave me a ride back to cambridge, but not without first stopping at my 2nd aunt's place to fix her cable tv which hasn't been working ever since she returned from taiwan 2 weeks ago.
my 2nd uncle was out getting groceries so he wasn't home. there was the faint smell of oily fried fish. my father had already been to the apartment a few days ago to inspect the cable box but he couldn't figure out what was wrong. they could still receive programming and channel info, just no video or audio. the wifi cable modem was working just fine. i shuffled through the various input selection on the tv but there was nothing. i finally just unplugged the cable box and plugged it back in. it reset (showing the xfinity logo) then after a few minutes a channel showed up. so apparently that was the fix, just reset the box.
my father finally dropped me off at my house. i was expecting there to be more snow but whatever shoveling i did early this morning apparently was enough. there as still a light dusting of powder which i quickly cleaned off before going into the house. i found sandy in the living room eating korean noodles.
after a shower, i tweaked some of the spreadsheet formulas so they can dynamically reference another cell using indirects. the formulas themselves looking over complicated and messy, but they work, and i haven't noticed any speed delays. sandy told me she was waking up early tomorrow (7:30am), so i adjusted the heating schedule accordingly. after we finished watching the good doctor, she got ready for bed. i stayed up until 1am before going to the bed myself.
lying in bed, the light from the supermoon was so bright shining through my windows, i couldn't resist not getting my camera out and snapping some photos from my snowy backyard deck. it really did look like daytime at night.
i never saw sandy this morning even though i knew she was already awake because i heard her chatting with kelvin briefly. i left by 11:40am, leaving her a note, which was probably what she was waiting for anymore, so she could have the whole house to herself.
i haven't biked since last tuesday, where i traveled 7.6 miles to the watertown RMV and back. i could feel some decreased endurance just from a few days of inactivity, but not too bad. the weather was warmer than i expected, temperature in the lower 40's, though i was dressed for much colder weather (temperature will drop by tonight).
i had some eggs, bacon and oatmeal when i arrived. afterwards my mother gave me a haircut. long hair keeps my head warm during the winter but it was starting to get a little unruly. i haven't had a haircut since july. i've noticed that the hair along my temples have been receding but once i went back to sporting short hair, my hairline went back to normal. i wanted to compost my hair but my parents said it would never break down so we just tossed it even though it seems like a waste of perfectly good hair.
it was a sunny day, one that looked to produce another record production except there was a dip in the early morning perhaps due to some clouds. otherwise the rest of the day was cloudless. we ended up making 36.03kWh, just a kWh shy of the record, though the second highest production so far this year.
i helped my father write some more formulas for the LLC spreedsheet. one sticking point was trying to categorize all the different credit and debit card transactions. i've been importing transaction data from the bank account, which worked last year, but there were a few new wrinkles for this year (2018). for one thing, a bunch of returned items threw off the summations, because in the transaction data they all had the same signs. there was no easy way to switch all the refunds so we manually made them negatives. another new feature was aggregating all the deposits, as they were mostly rent related. while digging through the transactions, i found several non-business related expenses made by my sister. it seems she's been secretly using the company credit card to do things like go out to dinner with friends. it wouldn't have been a big deal if they were small amounts, but twice she dined at a fancy restaurant with bills totally $700.
my sister had the misfortune of coming home on the day we discovered her embezzlement. she wanted to trim her hair right during dinner time, so we had to delay food preparations until she was done with the kitchen. i asked her about her expensive dinners and my mother likewise did the same. it ended into a screaming fight as my sister accused us of ganging up on her and said my mother told her she could use the company credit card anytime she wanted.
when my sister finally left we had dinner. after dinner i returned home. an acrid smell greeted me as i entered the house, like something was burnt. though unpleasant, i didn't ask sandy about it as the kitchen looked spotless except for the smell. the stench will disappear eventually. sandy's here for 7 more weeks. if she continues to cook this way, i don't know how long before i go crazy.
we watched the all-stars competition. tonight was the skills contest, three-point contest, and slam dunk contest. jayson tatum won the skills contest with an amazing 3-point shot from midcourt that knocked out his opponent's ball to have his go into the net.
later in the evening i worked more on the spreedsheet after figuring out a way to tally up all the credit and debit transactions.
sandy managed to wake up before me, but was about to leave for work, using the bathroom before she went. the day was grey and on occasions rainy, but unusually warm with temperature in the 50's. i went out just once to get some grapes from star market. i spent much of the day playing around with the delizus theme. i think i prefer sevill despite its limitations; i don't like the way delizus creates menu items, an essential part of any restaurant/cafe website. i can't seem to have multiple prices for single items and menu item layouts seem too complicated and i haven't figured out how to easily change them. i was trying to see what kind of menu plug-in sevill uses so i could import it, but it seems to be a custom function. i tried some other 3rd party restaurant menu plug-ins - food and drink menu and restaurant menu - but none of them were very good and none did i wanted. i sort of want to try out a different theme that doesn't use wpbakery page builder (unlike sevill or delizus), i hear elementor pro or divi have better user interfaces.
sandy came home around 6pm, right when i'd fallen asleep on the sofa. i quickly got up before she saw me in my lazy natural state. i didn't hear her chatting with kelvin today, a rarity. she made herself a bowl of seaweed noodles. as for me, i heated up some frozen meat tortellini with some readymade pasta sauce for dinner.
expecting sandy to be gone by the time i woke up, once again i was surprised that she was still home. i went to go use the bathroom around 9:30am which happened to be the exact time she finally decided to get ready for work. ever courteous, i cut short my action and got out of the bathroom so she could use it. she finally left by 10am, in which time i went back to the bathroom to continue some unfinished business.
for lunch i had some yogurt and granola, keeping it simple hopefully to lose some weight before my annual physical at the end of the month. i finished all my robitussin last night but i still had a bit of a cough with i treated with cough drops.
i spent the afternoon playing around with word press. the sevill theme i'm using is okay but limiting. for one thing, i couldn't figure out how to change the header font on the home page, which seems like a no-brainer, but i just couldn't find the setting. the font size also wasn't responsive enough, and when i looked at the website on a phone the name of the cafe wouldn't get truncated. i can't seem to reorder the menu items, it's alphabetical only. i finally ended up switching to the delizus theme which broke word press and the only way to fix it was to erase it and do a new install. delizus has more features but there are also things about it i don't like.
sandy came home around 6pm. she was immediately videochatting with kelvin while heating up the leftover spareribs for dinner. finished with both eating and chatting, she came back to the living room with her laptop. i didn't eat until around 8pm, my chicken cutlet sandwich. the leftover cutlets were a little undercooked still despite baking in the toaster oven for 10 minutes.
i woke up at 9am, surprised to find that sandy hadn't left for work yet. would she be spending another day at home again? she finally woke up by 10am. she wandered into the living room by 10:20am with her laptop. she said she was ready to go to work at 8am, but her department sent her an e-mail saying that her office was once again leaking, so she decided to stay home. she made herself some breakfast and camped out in the living room. at 10:45am she began videochatting with her boyfriend and only stopped 2 hours later.
all that snow that fell yesterday was now all melting away today, as everything turned into slush and emptied into the storm drains like urban waterfalls. i went out briefly to bring in the trash but also to scrape off some stubborn slush clumps stuck on the sidewalk.
a quiet afternoon turned noisy when sandy once again started videochatting with kelvin at 3pm. i moved to the dining table to get some peace and quiet. i took the leftover gruyere from the fridge and had some cheese and crackers for a snack.
i've been meaning to update the cafe website and finally got around to installing word press (5.0.3) using the sevill theme (1.0.5). i spent some time playing around with the different options, figuring out if this is a good theme or should i try a different one (like delizus or norebro).
in the late afternoon i did a long overdue thorough cleaning of the aquarium. i've noticed some slime algae and hair algae and green spots of algae coating the glass. i removed the filter and replaced the activated charcoal. i removed the driftwood with the java ferns and soaked them in a bowl in the sink to better see the algae before cleaning them off with my fingers. the glass algae were especially stubborn, and i was afraid i'd crack the glass by how hard i was scouring with the algae scrubber. finally i did a partial water change and feed the neon tetras with some new fish food.
in the early evening, after finishing chatting with kelvin, sandy came into the kitchen to make dinner. i retreated back into the living room. that's when i heard her chatting with kelvin again around 5:30pm. she didn't finally stop chatting until 7pm, after she finished dinner and came back into the living room. in total, i'd say she was with her boyfriend for nearly 6 hours today. even though kelvin went back to england, i still feel like he's living here with the amount of time i've seen him on videochat.
sandy made some red roasted sweet and sour spareribs with some of the black vinegar i bought the last time i was in chinatown. i tried a piece, it tasted good, very cantonese-style flavor.
as for me, i defrosted some chicken breasts earlier and butter pan-fried two pieces of panko-breaded chicken to make sandwiches. the "cutlets" were too thick and i ended up having to split them into smaller pieces in order to properly cook the centers. it tasted great though, i ate one cutlet while saving the other one for tomorrow night.
since sandy does some rock climbing, i played the documentary free solo about the first and only successful free solo climb of el capitan by alex honnold. it's a very interesting documentary that delves into the psychology of a person who would attempt to climb a mountain without using any safety lines. what was also fascinating was his relationship with his girlfriend, who has to put up with his adventures not knowing if the next one isn't the one that kills him.
i woke up at 8am on my birthday to renew my driver's license before a snowstorm was due to arrive in the early afternoon. it was a good day to do it since my license was due to expire today and gave me a little adventure. the watertown RMV was the destination and i'd already checked out the bike route on google map, which showed me a leisurely ride along the charles river. i left by 8:30am, before sandy even woke up. temperature was surprisingly low for some reason, only in the teens, but i was confident that it would rise. i did however have to stop at one point to change from gloves to mittens as my fingers were freezing. there was hardly any traffic on the bike path, a few other cyclists and joggers. the river was partially frozen and the only wildlife were a few canadian geese. i stopped behind the cambridge cemetery and saw what looked to be my grand uncle's grave.
i arrived at the watertown mall early, 8:50am, before the RMV was supposedly opened. there were already plenty of cars on the target side of the parking lot, while the mall side was still relatively empty. i didn't see any signs for the RMV and was suddenly afraid that maybe it was closed. but when i went inside the mall, i saw the hustle and bustle of RMV business.
there were surprisingly few people, normally the RMV is always packed, even early in the mornings. maybe the impending snowstorm kept a lot of people home. the RMV was already open even though it wasn't 9am yet. there was also nobody in line as a woman beckoned me to come forward. she made sure i had all the correct documents before indicating to another woman that i was here for a license renewal. this second woman gave me a ticket which was called immediately. i was actually kind of confused, as i'm used to waiting at the RMV, and stood there kind of in shellshock before another worker told me which counter i had to go to.
while all his other coworkers seemed to be having a good time, the man i got behind the counter was very serious. i was here for a real ID driver license, which is a new identification system that will allow me to use it instead of a passport for high level identity checks. unlike a normal driver license, a real ID requires supporting documents, like proof of citizenship, social security card, and proof of residency. after the clerk looked over my documents (scanning each one into a machine), he took my photo. i looked like a mess, especially after biking all the way from cambridge. i looked oily in the first photo and asked to retake it. the second photo was even less flattery - fat face, tangle of hair - but at least i wasn't greasy, so i accepted the photo. who takes a good driver license photo anyway? and especially during the winter, where i normally pack on an extra 10 lbs. i paid $65 in cash. a typical driver license renewal is $50 (license lasts for 5 years), but because my license also includes motorcycles, it costs more.
i was finished by 9am, where the RMV was technically supposed to be opened. i packed up my things and got dressed before leaving the mall.
i made my way to the cafe. i asked my mother to make me a traditional birthday dish of 2 eggs with some sugar. i returned home after i finished eating.
sandy was already gone by the time i woke up this morning at 10am. it gave me a chance to use the bathroom without interruptions then afterwards take a shower. i left for belmont by 11:30am. i ate a dried pastry when i arrived before we left for the waltham costco. it was surprisingly crowded when we first arrived for a monday afternoon, but by the time we left the parking lot was pretty empty. we had some hot dogs before leaving, the soda machine was broken so they gave us canned pepsis. we were back in belmont by 2:45pm.
with both my parents still coughing non-stop, my father got some robitussin DM from costco. he took a 20ml dosage the first chance he got, and said it felt like it was working right away. but soon after he said that, he was back to coughing again. likewise, it didn't do much for my mother either, but she was looking forward to trying the night time 'tussin because apparently it's supposed to make you drowsy.
we received a mysterious bill from the boston university oral surgery group for my 2nd aunt. when my mother asked her about it, she said she never had any such appointments. we were just going to ignore it figuring it was a clerical error, but the bill looked legitimate enough that i made some phone calls. there was actually 2 appointments back in december in the amount of $300.
i spoke with a receptionist from the boson medical center (where the appointments were made) with told me my aunt came in to get her dentures adjusted. true, she does wear dentures, but has a different dentist. the receptionist told me my aunt came in with all the proper credentials. by that point my suspicion that my aunt had been the victim of identity theft grew even stronger. there was nothing more the receptionist could do for me - she was basically saying that my aunt probably forgot about the appointments, which is impossible - but she took my name and number and said she'd give it to her manager, who would contact me. the one thing that made it especially suspicious is that the bill was sent to my parents' address. my aunt hasn't lived there in over 2 decades. had my aunt actually made those appointments, she would've never used that address.
we didn't quite reach 30kWh+ today, and tomorrow doesn't look to be a good production day with snow arriving as early as noontime. that reminds me: steve sent me an e-mail today, said they were going to the bahamas for 2 weeks. the only reason he let me know was because 1) some friends might stay at their place for a day or two, and 2) he wanted to make sure i knew they were gone so i'd shovel the snow that's coming tomorrow.
my father soldered one of the led light strip controller that arrived on saturday to a short length of led light strip he had cut. he'd wired it backwards the first time and the led's lit up but he couldn't control them. only when he resoldered the wires did the controller finally work, with 8 levels of brightness and some programmed flashing which is pretty much useless. the controller is good in that it seems to keep the settings "in memory."
i noticed sandy was back at home by 5:20pm so i turned up the heat for her. i wonder if she's ever curious that the house seems to know when she's home and adjusts the heating accordingly.
my mother went to take a nap on the sofa in the early evening so my father made dinner tonight. i returned to cambridge by 7:30pm. sandy was in her room with the light on. i didn't see her the rest of the night, she must've fallen asleep, waking up just once to use the bathroom around midnight them going right back to her bedroom. she wasn't videochatting with kelvin, which has been her routine ever since he left. i think the reason is on tuesdays he works the late shift, so he was probably still asleep back in the UK before waking up to work. it was a rare night where i wasn't subjected to cantonese chatter.
i tried the robitussin (my parents gave me a bottle), it tasted awful, like super artificially-sweetened cherry-flavored cough syrup. when i get a cold, i usually resort to taking some pills, as i find cough syrups to be disgusting, but liquids seem to be more effective against cough symptoms. maybe it was just the placebo effect, but i didn't cough once after that sip of robitussin. out of curiosity, i took a blood pressure reading afterwards: 145/95. not sure if that's the 'tussin talking, or my HBP has increased since i last measured it, which was about a year ago (i'm only taking readings now because i have a physical in 2 weeks).