t
o
n
y
a
n
g
'
s
 
w
e
b
l
o
g


i finally went down to my community garden in the late morning to clean up my plot after having not visited for more than a month. most gardeners still had lavish gardens filled with different plants while mine looked like it was already ready to be dismantled. i cut down all the spent garlic chive and goldenrod flowers. i chopped down all the lemon balm, it seemed to be pretty invasive and i never had any real use for it. i uprooted my tomatoes and eggplants, not sure what to do about the grow bags. leave them in the garden or dump out the dirt and start fresh next season? the only positive thing in the garden were the monkshood that had blossomed. they probably flowered weeks ago, purple petals littering the ground around the plants, but still plenty of flowers on the stalks.

i returned home and had lunch, salmon bagel sandwich. i rode the motorcycle to belmont in the early afternoon to check up on the house and do some yard work. this past weekend the temperature in the house had dropped down to 59°F, but now it had risen to around 65°F. i opened some shades to allow some sunlight and opened the door to the sunroom which was quite warm (in the 80's). the solar-charged batteries in the sunroom were all at maximum capacity: 35Ah battery (connected to 50W panel) read 13.9V, 11.2Ah motorcycle battery (connected to the 20W panel) read 14V, and the backup battery (connected to the 1.5W panel) read 12.8V. in the basement the duralast 85Ah battery (connected to the 100W panel) read 13.8V.

i checked the status of the basement grow room. the soil of a few plants looked dry so i watered them. i turned off the led grow lights temporarily and turned on the fluorescent lights so i could see better. i noticed a few things: a few of the gardenia leaves looked to have caterpillar damage. i didn't see any worms but definitely something to look out for. i didn't think anything ate those leathery leaves but i was wrong. some of the jasmines have started to grow these long tendrils, which probably needs to be snipped off. goes to show that left on its, a jasmine has a tendency to climb. i also noticed some of the leaves have a bumpy appearance instead of smooth, not sure what's causing that. i filled up the water bucket with rain water from outside.

my sister called me, wanted to know if i wanted to pick up the honda element parked at binbin's house today. binbin told me via wechat on friday that their housing association will upgrade all the garage doors. because of that, the garage has to be empty. for some reason my father thought it'd be a great idea to leave one of our cars in their garage and park binbin's SUV in our driveway (binbin's car doesn't fit their tiny garage). but now i have to get it out before the installers come on wednesday. the original plan was to go tomorrow morning, but my sister was reluctant to wake up so early. i told my sister we were sticking to the plan but i changed my mind soon afterwards. since i was free anyway, might as well do it now. i was hesitant at first, before i realized i should store my motorcycle in the garage for the time being, so i didn't have to take care of two vehicles, and could then drive the car back to cambridge.

my sister arrived while i was raking leaves in the front yard. she came back from winchester, which meant had we planned it better, she could've dropped me off at binbin's place earlier and i could've gotten the car, instead of now returning to winchester/burlington again. after raking 3 containers of dead leaves, i moved all the cars out of the driveway and put my motorcycle in the garage. i got a change to test drive binbin's SUV, which is more tank than car, and seemed to be nothing but blind spots. after moving the cars back onto the driveway, my sister drove me to burlington.

binbin's house has a keypad entry. she wrote the pin number on a sheet for my father but it was nowhere in the house. my sister said she remembered what it was, but wasn't 100% sure. she did tell me that my father took a photo of the info sheet, so i logged into his google photo account and found the info. besides moving the car out of the garage, we also moved the two trash bins into the house to give the garage door installers more room to work. we continued to empty out their fridge, my sister taking some frozen foods while i grabbed a jar of korean citron honey tea.

i left by 3:30pm, returning home via route 3. it might've been faster on the interstate, but the back wheels of the honda element made a distressing grinding noise on turns so i thought it was safer to stick to the local roads. midway through my trip i realized the car was almost out of gas. i finally got home by 4pm. because there was street cleaning this morning, there was plenty of open parking spots.

i continued processing the 6000 head of the charles photos. it took all night, but i managed to toss out about 1000 photos (too blurry). of the remaining 5000 photos, i picked 865 as the best and slowly uploaded them to my google photos account.

i tried the korean honey citron drink. it looked like a large jar of marmalade, i spooned about a tablespoon worth of it into a mug and added some hot water. i was afraid it'd be too diluted but it was actually the perfect level of sweetness. there were slices of citron but i think ginger as well. it's pretty good, a nice drink for cold days.

i coincided the reheating of my final leftover chicken lentil soup dinner with the start of the monday night football game between the patriots and the jets. previously winless new york was coming off of their victory over the dallas cowboys and jets quarterback sam darnold was named the AFC's offensive player of the week, so there was a lot of momentum that maybe they were the team to beat the undefeated patriots. but all of that was just a pipe dream, as new england demolished the jets to a tune of 33-0. the patriots' offensive wasn't even playing that well, a dominant first half left scoreless in the start of the second half with the exception of a safety. pats would score one more touchdown but it's the defense that really shines. new england has yet to have a game that really showcase the full potential of the offense. granted, tom brady had a lot of weapons at the start of the season, but through attrition has lost most of them.

i had my alarm set to 8am but i snoozed it until 8:30am. my weather station said it was 43°F outside this morning. i dug out my wool sweater and my hat and gloves before leaving a bit before 9am to go see the head of the charles.

i haven't been to the head of the charles since 2017. i discovered the last time i was there that the best place to take photos isn't from one of the crowded bridges; but rather from the bank of the river, on the cambridge side, by the final bend before a straightway to the finish line. i was there the last time i went and found that it's the perfect place: secluded, the boats get close enough to almost touch, and low to the water, so that you can get some great action shots and hear the coxswains expletive-laden motivations to the rowers.

this early in the morning it was mostly the high school groups, so not a lot of people. the crowds would come later in the afternoon, during the collegiate races. there used to be a floating log by the edge of the water that i could sit on but i couldn't find the spot anymore. i found a different place, nowhere to sit, but enough of a clearing that i had a good view.

the women's club singles was just about finish by the time i settled into my lookout, with the women's youth fours, director's challenge women's quads, women's youth oxed quad, and women's youth eights all about to start.

maybe it was because i biked there, or maybe because the sun was out, but i felt warm enough to take off my sweater and put my jacket back on. it was the best spot because i was facing east and the water was reflecting the glare from the morning sun. it meant rowers would be underexposed (appear as silhouettes), but i compensated by adjusting the exposure value on my camera. get it just right, the sun provides a nice backlight. this was also my first time shooting the head of the charles with my new canon 80D camera, with it's slightly faster fps speed compared to my old 60D (7 fps to 5 fps). i came with the 55-250mm telephoto lens. despite it's flimsy and lightweight construction, i've found that it's the clearest of all my telephoto lenses. i had on a 58mm multi-coated circular polarizing filter to help with the glare, but it didn't really do anything so i put the multi-coated UV filter back on. i also brought my wide angle lens in case i needed to use it.

when the boats started coming, i found it almost too easy to shot more photos than i needed. the faster frames-per-second combined with the overall faster speed of the camera meant i could shoot non-stop. i also had a samsung 128GB memory card, which kept up with the writing, never once did i have any recording pause like i did with my 60D. i shot in aperture priority at f/8, with ISO set between 400-800 (depending on whether it got cloudy) to force a faster shutter speed.

i was done by 11am. i decided to go home, use the bathroom, take a shower, have some lunch, watch a bit of football, before coming back around 2pm for the collegiate rowing events.

i made a salmon cream cheese bagel sandwich for lunch. a part of me wanted to revisit the poke shop (only open on the weekends now), or stop by the bonchon restaurant in harvard square to pick up an order of korean fried chicken (save that pleasure for later in the week). i watched the raiders-packers game on CBS, a close contest by the time i stopped watching it and returning to harvard square around 2pm.

by that point there was more people along the bank of the river, which i was already expecting. though nobody had my old spot, there were too many people crowded in that area that i thought it'd be bad form to simply work my way in front of everyone. i walked further down towards the finish line and found an open area with nobody around. an old couple appeared behind me at one point, smiling and remarking that i had a great spot. i agreed, they stayed for a few minutes, before leaving. in hindsight, maybe that was there spot, and they were hoping i'd move.

i learned from this morning that the best way to shoot the rowers is after they've passed by, so you can capture their faces, since they're all facing backwards. there was something a little off from where i was shooting that i wasn't getting the same angles i had before from my old spot - maybe because i was lower to the water surface. in any case, i use all these head of the charles shooting opportunities as an excuse to play with my camera and learn from past mistakes.

i caught the tail end of the men's championship eights. that was followed by the men's lightweight eights, men's collegiate eights, women's championship eights, women's lightweight eights, women's collegiate eights, men's collegiate fours, and women's collegiate fours. i moved location during the men's collegiate fours, wanted to find a different place to shoot. i ended up going on top of the eliot's bridge, which quickly emptied once the collegiate events were over. all that was left was the parent/child doubles and mixed eights.

after that was over i biked home before they reopened memorial drive after 5pm. back at home i was curious to know how many photos i took. i ended up with 6000 photos taking up 45GB worth of space. i didn't even have enough empty storage on my macbook pro to download all the photos. i ended up clearing 75GB worth of space by backing up some data and erasing them off of the computer. i also retroactively filled some blog entries that were waiting for photos (photo heavy events like the yuletide 5K and the recent pride parade).

i spent the rest of the day watching football from the couch while surfing. i drifted in and out of sleep, every time waking up to a new quarter of action. the sunday night game was between the eagles and cowboys. i heated up a bowl of chicken lentil soup for dinner, have one more serving left after this. i add about a tablespoon of sriracha hot sauce to make it tastier. it's okay, not the most delicious of soups, but not bad either. very filling, i feel stuffed afterwards. as for the game, both teams were 3-4. cowboys ended up winning, 37-10. patriots play both teams in november.

island style mixplate: spicy salmon poke (sambal, kimchee aioli, scallions), mochiko fried chicken (crispy island style fried chicken with spiced honey), white rice, greens (guava vin, slaw, pickled carrot), kimchee cukes, hawaiian mac salad

there was actually some sun this morning and the day looked promising. it was the aftermath of the heavy storm that rocked the area last night. i went to sleep late, and by 3am the storm had already quieted down. but looking outside, it looked like the aftermath of a hurricane, as the landscape was littered with leaf and branch debris. but it soon turned cloudy, and a check of the weather forecast said there could be some more sprinkles today, even though the brunt of the rainstorm had moved away.

my sister came to pick me up around noontime because she wanted to go to aldi's and i wanted to get some stuff from nearby harbor freight, with a peek inside OSJL.

i'd known about harbor freight since 2012, when i first visited the store in august. my father's first visit was later that year in december. since then we visit fairly often, once every month or two, or whenever we have a project that requires a specific tool or cheap part. so i was a little surprised when i discovered that my sister had never been to one before. maybe i shouldn't be that surprised, since up until a few weeks ago, she didn't really know about fellsway plaza and all the stores available like aldi and pet supplies plus. i was even more surprised that she wanted to check it out, since i always considered harbor freight a guy's store. she ended up really liking the place, leaving with $20 worth of stuff (i had a spare 20% off one item coupon for her) and wanted to buy more (denim apron! moving blanket! mini hammer! tool bag!) before i told her to come back next time with another coupon. i bought a magnetic tool holder and a few more pegboard hooks.

at OSJL i picked up more than a dozen wool blend yarn for my mother after coordinating with her over the phone by sending her photos of what i found. i only got a bag of rice crackers and some cola gummy for myself.

at pet supplies plus i was hoping to get some aquatic plants but they only had the few damaged ones i saw last time, no new stock. instead i gave the 20% off coupon to my sister who got some snacks for her dog. final stop was aldi's where my sister got a push cart full of groceries. i got mostly snacks.

it was 3pm before i finally had lunch, made myself a salmon cream cheese bagel sandwich with salmon slices, salmon cream cheese, capers, and onion. after wolfing it down in less than a minute, i went outside to clean up the storm debris, raking both the front and back yard. earlier i saw marti taking an uber with some suitcases, looks like she won't be home again this weekend.

chicken lentil soup 

olive oil
onion, chopped
garlic, minced

kosher salt
ground black pepper

1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp oregano

2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped

28 oz. diced tomatoes

6 cups chicken broth
2 cups dried lentils
6 boneless chicken thighs

parmesan cheese


sauté onion and garlic, add dry spices. sauté carrots and celery. add diced tomatoes. add chicken broth and lentils. once the soup boils, add chicken thighs and simmer for 1 hour. skim off any foam. take out chicken and shred. blend half amount of soup in blender and add back to pot (to thicken). add back chicken. serve with shredded cheese topping.

i called my father this morning asking if the nest thermostat was acting up today. he said so far it'd been quiet, which is a good sign. i adjusted the cafe heating schedule online as i noticed it was still set on 70°F late last night.

after a few slices of panettone for lunch, i went outside and did some yard work: raking up some leaves, branches, and acorn debris from the backyard, and pruning back some of the english ivy in both the backyard and front of the house. i also trimmed off the coleus flowers. i thought about visiting my community garden - which i haven't visited in weeks (actually a whole month)- but decided to postpone it until tomorrow. instead i biked to market basket to get some groceries. i decided tonight i would make lentil chicken soup. i realized i've never cooked lentils before, even though i have some in the house (left behind by former roommates 1 2).

i went to the cafe in the afternoon to test the motion sensing light strip we want to install in the stairwell of the upstairs apartment. i asked my father again if he heard any strange clicking from the basement furnace since we installed the 24vac transformer, and he said it's been very quite. also it was warm enough today that the furnace never kicked in, but that wouldn't affect the clicking issue, which is a side effect of the nest thermostat's proprietary power sipping technology. so the transformer may very well have fixed our problem. yes, it means having to rewire the thermostat whenever we switch from heating to AC, and we still need to snake the transformer wire behind the wall, but it beats having to return to using the manual honeywell mercury-switch thermostat.

my father and i went to the apartment and tested the led neon strip light. the light itself wasn't important - we can use any type of strip light we want. we were there primarily to check out where to mount the motion sensor so the stairwell light would turn on either from the top or the bottom of the staircase. we figured out the sensor works the best when we turn off the photo sensor and have it always turn on when it senses motion. we finally figured out a good spot, and will install the light at some future date.

while my father was testing the sensor, i was looking out the kitchen window into the neighbor's backyard. when i was there yesterday i noticed the large sunflowers the neighbors had grown. but there were these other plants i didn't recognize, nearly as tall as the sunflower stalks, green and leafy with no flowers that i could see. it took me a few seconds to go through my mental rolodex of plant identification before i realized what i was looking at: marijuana plants! i'd never seen cannabis live before, but i'm sure of it: growing in a secluded spot, with some sunflower screens. it was a little shocking but marijuana is now legal in massachusetts: a single person can grow up to 6 plants, while a household can grow up to 12. it's just surprising to see it being grown out in the open, i figured anyone who was growing would grow them indoors. even though marijuana probably grows best outdoors, the biggest problem is theft. these neighbors actually have a pretty good spot, no one else can see their pot garden except us.

speaking of grass, originally i wanted to go to belmont to water the lawn. but after doing some research yesterday, i realized it's now too late to grow any new grass as it takes 6 weeks for the grass to mature. we'll experience our first killing frost within that time which will pretty much end the growing season. next year, either start the grass early spring (march-april), or early fall (beginning of september). i also wanted to use up the water in the rain barrels, but it's going to rain so much later tonight, it won't make any difference, as there'll be enough rain to fill the barrels 2-3x over.

before i returned home, my parents gave me a container of tofu soup and leftover instant pot beef stew. my lentil chicken soup will have to wait until tomorrow or this weekend.

feeling snacky, i rummaged through my kitchen looking for something to eat. i've invested in some healthy snacks (carrots, celery, humus), and came across my container of tabouli salad which i like to eat with melba toast. not sure how healthy it was because i finished the whole container along with a box of melba toast. i have to think it should at least be better than the processed junk food i sometimes eat.

i called my father after my parents returned home, to ask him to unhook the terminal leads connecting the outdoor pump to the indoor battery. with the strong winds, there could be a good chance that the plastic bucket we use to keep the contacts dry will be blown away, exposing the contacts to the rain, and i didn't want the rain to cause a short circuit on the battery.

the weather wasn't all that bad today, temperature in the lower 60's, warm enough that i could get by in just a shirt and jeans. there was sun this morning, but by the afternoon storm clouds started rolling in, eclipsing the sunshine. the northeast will experience a bombogenesis event, pelting the area with torrential rain and winds later this evening. i didn't have dinner until much later (beef stew), to coincide with the 9:30pm broadcast of a new episode of single parents. my parents gave me some irish breakfast tea which i didn't like because it's too bitter and strong, had to take out the teabag otherwise it'd make the tea even more bitter. i like black tea where i can steep for a long time with no bitterness. i finished a honeycrisp apple before throwing out the trash.

by the time i threw out the trash it'd already started raining. rain i don't mind, but the winds scared me, afraid of falling tree branches or down power lines. it was heavy at times, the rain beating against the windows, the wind howling outside. it kept pushing the side door open, which beat against the side of the house; it was annoying enough that i went out a few times to slam the door shut, only to have it blown open again.

nobody wants to fix the cafe's troubling nest thermostat. not xiaowu the HVAC guy who usually does all the repair work whenever something breaks down, not the handful of professional nest installers whom i contacted in early spring. some never responded, some i e-mailed but never got any traction, and the one installer (victory) who did come (late) took a look, said all the right things, but then disappeared off the face of the earth even when i tried to contact them afterwards (one of the guys stole our screwdriver no less). what is it about our particular setup that makes HVAC specialists so afraid?

but i've done enough research on my own, scouring online discussion boards, watching youtube installation videos, reading all the explanations and hack attempts, that i like to think i already know a lot about the nest thermostat. i've also installed it at my own place (december 2014, running my own common wire when one wasn't available) and my father and i hacked a solution for the nest thermostat at my parents' place (november 2016).

so the trouble started last october when we installed a nest thermostat at the cafe, replacing an old school dual heating and cooling mercury-switch honeywell thermostat. that should've been a cause for celebration, a step into the future. having the ability to control the heat remotely and turn it down for those times when my parents forget was be a blessing. i wired it by the book, borrowing an unused wire from the AC roof unit and connecting it to the unused common on the control board. everything was going according to plan until we switched on the nest and it said it couldn't detect neither Rc (cooling) or Rh (heating). after some trial and error, we found out that if we pull out the common wire the thermostat will work fine, even though it shouldn't. but we left it as is since it was working and all seemed right with the HVAC world.

but over the weeks we began to notice that the basement furnace will make these loud intermittent clicking noises, like it was trying to ignite the furnace but couldn't. it never happened when it was heating, only when it wasn't. the most likely explanation was the nest thermostat still needed a common wire. the common provides power for the thermostat, and without it, it will try to sip power from the furnace, causing it to fire intermittently.

my father finally managed to get xiaowu to pay a house call (to fix a few other things). i figured him being the professional, he'd find a fix. but afterwards my father told me xiaowu couldn't make any sense of it either, and suggested we run new thermostat cables. while we waited for him to return (he kept putting it off), we did our own sleuthing mid-december and discovered that the common wire coming from the AC unit was actually 18VAC, not 24VAC. so it was definitely something wrong with the wire. fortunately there was one extra spare so i simply replaced the wire. when i measured it again from downstairs, it was the supposed value of 24-25VAC. wiring every back up, i put back the nest thermostat. it now accepted the common wire which you'd think is a good thing, but now it was firing the basement furnace non-stop, scary enough that we removed the nest thermostat after a few seconds. out of ideas, we went back to reliable mercury switch honeywell thermostat. sure, you couldn't control it remotely over via wifi, but at least it'd never repeatedly trigger the furnace when it wasn't turned on.

when spring came around i thought it'd be a good time to contact some nest-recommended professional installers. sure, it'd be expensive, but at least it'd fix our problem once and for all. that was before i found out nobody wanted to touch our system. something to do with a two transformer system - one transformer from the AC, one transformer from the furnace - a headache nobody wanted to tackle. as the weather was getting warmer, it was time to make the switch from heating to cooling. instead of using the honeywell thermostat, i decided to hook up the AC wires (Y-G-Rc-C) to the nest thermostat, which had been sitting on a shelf unused gathering dust all winter. the nest had no problems accepting the AC (a much newer unit by several decades compared to the basement furnace), and we didn't have anything to worry about, at least for the summer.

but now mid-october, with the temperature turning cooler, it was once again time for heating. we sort of kicked the can of our malfunctioning nest thermostat, but now it was time face the problem again. one thing i don't remember trying is to just use the common from the AC while connecting the heat. so the furnace would connect to W-Rh, while the common would be on Rc-C (disconnecting Y and G). i saw this wiring for an external 24VAC setup, and figured we could trying matching it, except we'd be using the AC as the common. i think in the past we tried connecting just the C wire which didn't work and the nest wouldn't even allow us to continue until we fixed the wiring. having a year to digest what we did, i now realize it didn't work (just W-C-Rh) because the C was an open loop. when we wired it again this time (Rc-C, W-Rh), there was no problem. the nest thermostat accepted the wiring, but did throw me an N72 error. from a youtube video i learned that N72 is a minor error, the nest will say this in certain conditions, like wiring in a C common wire from an external source. everything is still okay, and like the video said, the nest will still allow you to continue despite the error message. in fact, we were able to test the furnace, it turned on no problems, and we also increased the room temperature by 1 degree as an additional test, it passed as well.

so everything was working, and all seemed well in the HVAC world once again. but the real test wasn't whether or not the nest thermostat could turn on the furnace, it's always been able to do that. what we wanted to know is if left alone, will the nest thermostat try to steal power from the furnace (thereby causing the intermittent clicks) or will it behave and take power from the provided AC-supplied common wire?

in the meantime i helped my father take down 2 window AC units from the apartment bedrooms. in the past we simply left the AC's in the windows all season because 1) they were too dirty to move, and 2) they were too heavy. but these new AC's we've installed are much lighter, and taking them down will lessen the draft coming into the bedrooms come winter. currently a male astrophysicist is living in the small bedroom and 2 other male astrophysicists are sharing the larger bedroom. i was surprised they left their doors opened, i guess none of them have much to steal. after taking down the AC's we moved them into the basement. i was admiring the plastic wash basins, which i realized last night are the perfect containers for growing lotuses next season.

afterwards i rode to belmont to check on the solar batteries, water the lawn, and do some weeding.

i brought home two leftover barbecued drumsticks for lunch, which i finally ate around 2pm. i was going to eat both, but decided to save one for dinner. i also had some sourdough bread.

i should've realized something was wrong with the nest thermostat when my father called me around 3:30pm. he said he started hearing the clicks again, said they were different from last time, put the phone up to the furnace for me to hear as well. they sounded like somebody knocking or hammering on a door. although he said we could fix it tomorrow, i told him i would come down immediately. i went via bicycle, figuring it'd be easier to get back home come rush hour.

so the Rc-C common wiring hack from the AC didn't work. i couldn't figure out why, but our final solution was to use an external 24VAC power source. we actually had a 24VAC transformer (MG ELECTRONICS MGT2420, $13.55) that we purchased back in april 2017, when we discovered that turning off our furnace for the season would also cut power to the nest thermostat. the transformer was a potential fix but my father figured out a way to have a separate 24VAC switch from the basement to the thermostat so we ended up never using the transformer. this seems like such a common problem (smart thermostat requiring an unavailable common wire) nowadays that i've seen specialty plugs being sold on amazon just for this purpose. the kind that we got is a big ugly heavy transformer, didn't even come with wires, which you have to provide yourself.

ideally you'd want to hide the transformer wires inside the walls, but we decided to do a temp hack job, just to see if it'd even work. we unscrewed the rectangular thermostat baseplate so there'd be some clearance for the wires to go underneath and then into the nest. i wired it exactly the same way i did before, except the Rc-C wires were now coming from the 24VAC tranformer. like before, it threw out an N72 error, which i learned to ignore. it allowed us to continue and we were able to run a heating test without any problems. but like before, the problem isn't with the heating, it's with the thermostat when it tries steal power when its battery begins to run low.

only time will tell if the external 24VAC transformer hack will work. we taped the wire to the wall to prevent anyone from accidentally snagging it. my father seemed optimistic, but i've been fooled so many times before, i'm sort of hopeful but guarded. even if it was does work, this is a hack, and come late spring, we'll need to switch the wires inside the nest for AC cooling. we'll also need to find a way to hide the exposed wires. but all those are things for the future; right now we need to worry about if this fixed it or not.

my aunt showed up unexpectedly. we thought she was hire to pick up some xian bread jason's father had made before they returned to china, but she came to tell my parents' that matthew's father passed away on saturday.

when i came home there are two packages for me in the foyer: a pack of alligator clips and a solar-powered rubber cork stopper string light. the cork stopper light is cool, not sure how much electricity it can actually store. the rubber cork is also completely sealed, so no way to replace the battery. the cork isn't very elastic, i couldn't really squeeze it into a bottle, it's more of a solid stopper, but cool nevertheless. speaking of solar string lights, my amazon seller finally refunded by $7 for the handful of solar mason jar lights that leaked water. i brought a few home to test, so i could figure out where exactly is it leaking from, so that maybe i could fix it with silicone caulk.

i had some bread and the remaining drumstick for dinner but it wasn't enough so i heated some soup from a can. still haven't gone to the super market this week, need to figure out what i'm going to make for dinner the rest of the week. my parents are off to bermuda next week so i'll need to forage for myself for the entire week.

late morning:

late afternoon:

early evening:

it's been so cloudy and rainy this past week, i'm starting to forget what it felt like to see the sun. this lingering october overcast coincides with our purchase of 2 new solar panels, still unable to test them fully. i brought back the 6-cell 50W solar panel - which i will now call the 20W panel - and connected it to one our smaller batteries. i also got a chance to test our rgb strip light with one of the rgb controllers that arrived yesterday. these rgb lights are not addressable so they all glow with the same color. my next project is to get my hands on some WS2812B/WS2813 lights.

a lot of the smaller lotus leaves have turned brown, but the one healthy lotus with the big floating and aerial leaves is still going strong, but even that one has started to yellow bit. my repotted columbines are getting bigger, they were stunted when grown in the plastic cups. i should transfer them to the ground before it gets too cold so they can have time to set some decent roots for the winter. it goes without saying that the rain barrels are at maximum capacity, given the amount of rain we had. some rain water i found in a bucket showed that about 1.5" of rain fell over the past few days.

i checked out our hydrangea, looking for flower buds on the terminal ends of stems. they all just look like more leaf buds. i'm not going to worry too much about it, i'll find out come next season whether we get any new flowers. in the meantime i just have to remember now to prune any of the stems.

i told my mother about the new breaking bad movie on netflix. she started watching the first few minutes of it but couldn't remember a lot of details. that made me suspicious so i started quizzing her on key moments. the death of hank. the death of gus. jessie's imprisonment. she failed to recall every single detail, which made me realize she's missed the final few seasons of the show. i stopped the movie and made her rewatch breaking bad from the middle of season 3, beginning with half measure.

we hung the led grow lights from the ratchet hangers that came with the lights, for easier up-and-down adjustments. we had to shorten the 4 wire suspension cables. i learned of a technique where you string 2 wires length-wise and clip them together with a carabiner clip. the first one was easy because we reused the lanyard clips. the second one we used the lobster claw clips i got last week, looping them together with wires. it looked fine but when we hung it up, one of the lobster claw clips snapped apart. these are made of metal but of an inferior metal, meant for earrings and necklaces, not for suspending grow leds. instead my father removed a few links from a fluorescent shop light hanging chain and used them as hooks for the wires. i got a chance to see the wall mounted shelves, now stocked with garden-related supplies. finally i saw the 4x2 ft pegboard my father got from the cafe basement. it's a good sign, we just need a way to hang it up and to buy some pegboard hooks.