my sister and i rendezvoused at the cambridge cemetery to pay our respects at my grand uncle's grave. just our luck, we come on the day when the ground crew is mowing the grass directly behind us in an extremely noisy riding mower, spraying grass clippings and twigs. my sister brought some dahlia flowers from her backyard and stuck them into plastic vases with ground spikes. we stayed briefly before she went home while i continued to nearby home depot.
having never bought molding before, i didn't know they were priced by the foot (i should've known the printed price was too good to be true). i found out when i went to check out and the cashier was measuring the height of the molding piece. i ended up returning to the molding department where they had a self-serve molding cutting station. i cut my molding in half (5ft). i also bought a can of wood filler. i looked for rounded planks of wood but they only had were quarter round strips, which i wasn't if they'd fit or not.
i stopped in belmont. i opened the door to the balmy sun room and used a fan to blow all that hot air into the rest of the house. i harvested all the vegetables from the raised beds (japanese eggplants, hot peppers, a few tomatoes). i stalked the snapped dahlia, even though probably soon i'll need to dig up the tubers for overwintering. i planted 2 dozen crocus bulbs, interspersed in the new perennial bed amongst the columbines, hydrangea, and peonies. before i left for the cafe, my sister called me to warn me of a detour: apparently another car has crashed and ended up flipping upside down, blocking the road. the exact same thing happened last friday. it's either a freak coincidence or there's definitely something wrong with the way the road is laid out.
wood molding was easier to cut than plastic molding, but i was still unsure how to correctly use the miter box as it didn't come with instructions (i could've looked it up online but didn't think of it at the time). the first few attempts i had a really hard time cutting the molding. i was taking 15-20 minutes per molding piece. i also measured wrong and ended up cutting a shorter piece of molding than intended. after a while though i finally got the hang of it, and intuitively figured out the best and easiest way to cut the molding pieces. however, i noticed that the cuts were slightly crooked so when i fit the pieces together, there were small gaps at the corners. i will fix it eventually either by sanding or filling. i also realized i didn't buy enough molding, and will need to go back tomorrow and half another 5ft worth (hopefully it's still where i left it on the cutting table).
i went home around 4pm. i gave my sister a ride to harvard square because she was going into boston. i went to star market to pick up a bag of salad mix and some jazz apples ($1.99/lbs). surfing the web on my laptop lounging on the couch, i nearly fell asleep. i contacted john to confirm we're a go for the gunk this weekend. my father sent me a voice message via wechat, told me that my mother found her iphone after all, put it in her luggage.
for dinner i had a salad first before heating up some formerly frozen beef broth and boiling some chinese noodles. i ate while watching game 4 of the ALCS between the red sox and the astros. as of now i don't know who will win, but boston is a good position with the score at 8-6 going into the final inning. a very long game, more than 5+ hours.
first stop: my parents' place, to check up on the house. my biggest worry was it might get too cold because i turned off the furnace when my parents left on sunday. i was about to turn on the space heater to add a little heat in the house, until i realized the sunroom was cooking. even though it was relatively cold outside, today was a sunny day for a change, and the sunroom was like a sauna. i opened the door to let some of that hot air into the house and i watched as the room temperature began to slowly increase. the other thing i did was to cut a piece of chicken wire to put over RB0, to protect my garlic cloves.
next i drove the car to the watertown home depot to pick up the miter box i ordered online last night. i couldn't find it in the store when i was there, but i could order from their website and have it guaranteed to be ready for store pick-up the next day. i also returned some wire staples, but didn't have the original credit card, so i got store credit instead. i used the credit to partially pay for an extra large cardboard box ($2.38) i bought for frances' packages. they have so many different boxes of various sizes, i should never have to be stressed out about fitting a big enough shipment box ever again.
returning to belmont, i was ready to leave for cambridge, with the plan of coming back later in the afternoon to get my motorcycle after i was done with paint prep work at my sister's place. but i realized i could just store my motorcycle in the garage so i could borrow the car the rest of the week and not have to worry about two vehicles.
i finally made it to the cafe by 1:40pm. i went to my sister's place to chisel out the rotted wood on her deck columns, then sawed off pieces of wood to fill the gaps. the only problem was the corners are rounded, and i didn't know how to do that. earlier i did some research and it involves using a handheld router, but i'm hoping home depot sells pre-rounded planks i can just cut and fill the gaps. i also patched up a few holes with wood filler. we had some plastic molding, but when i went to go cut it using the miter box, i discovered the molding was simply too hard to cut, and tomorrow i will also get a strip of wood molding.
my sister made me some lunch around 3pm, with some of the hen of the woods mushroom, a medley of potato fries and bacon and eggs and toast washed down with some apple flavored seltzer. not sure what my sister did with the mushrooms, but they tasted pretty good, a lot of flavor. i ate quickly and went back out to work. my sister also told me that my mother had lost her iphone.
the weather today was actually very pleasant, and downright hot in the sun despite temperature being only in the upper 50's. i took off my jacket and worked in a long-sleeved henley pullover. i heard tomorrow will be even warmer, then thursday it's going to be brutally cold, with frost advisory north of boston, wind chills in the 20's. if it's going to be that cold i'm not sure i'll be working, i'll have to check to see what's the lowest operating temperature for the paints. even worse, next week there's going to be a cold snap as well. it may be our days of warm weather are already over, and we'll have just a brief fall before transitioning fully into winter weather.
i finished my 4pm, driving back to my place in the car. i assembled the extra large cardboard box and moved some of frances' stuff into it. volume wise and perhaps weight wise as well, this has got to be the largest and heaviest shipment i've ever made for her. it will have to be broken up into two parts, and i'm not even sure i can get the extra large box to the post office without getting some help. there's still enough room for some more items, i'm waiting to get the all clear from her before shipping.
my weight is down to 145 lbs. now! it seems without the subsidized free dinners my parents provide and left to feed my own self, i don't eat very much. i've also been busy the past few days, and have gone almost entire days without eating until very late in the afternoon. i'm also trying to keep a healthy diet, working in more salads, and sensible snacks like a banana or an apple or baby carrots with humus or candied pecan nuts. my dream is to get it down into the 30's, which i haven't done in many years. summertime was supposed to be the time to do it, but i wasn't that active this summer (maybe because it was so damn hot).
since i haven't made a grocery run this week (i went to market basket on sunday but only to pick up a few things for the cafe), i didn't make anything for dinner. instead, i heated up some pasta sauce and boiled a bag of frozen cheese and spinach ravioli. i love raviolis so much, i should really learn to make my own, with my own fillings, but $1 for a bag of frozen packaged raviolis is just too easy to pass up. i added some leftover maitake mushrooms to the pasta sauce. the end result was pretty delicious, the mushrooms have a meat-like texture but tastes all mushroom. i washed it down with some limited edition harpoon dunkin' coffee porter, a beer my sister got my a week ago knowing that i don't drink beer (just hard cider). it'd be at my parents' house but i brought home to try. for some reason i was expecting it to be sweet, because when i hear dunkin' i immediately think donuts. so i was surprised when i took a sip and it tasted like beer and coffee, two things i don't usually drink, and would never in a million years think to combine the two. it made my mouth taste like an ashtray afterwards.
i ate while watching game 3 between the red sox and astros, which started in the late afternoon. boston had the lead so it was easier to watch, but only by a few points, and houston did manage to tie the game, but boston came right back to regain the lead. then in the 8th inning, astros loaded the bases, hit a batter to knock in a run, then jackie bradley jr. hit a grand slam homerun to take the red sox 8-2, which pretty much demoralized houston, as fans left for the exit and the astros didn't score after all.
i watched the new ABC drama rookie starring nathan fillion as a 40something LAPD rookie cop. i'm not a big dan of fillion, and i only liked him in castle, which i watched more for stana katic. when ABC didn't renew her contract and was going to continue the show without her, fillion didn't handle it very well and i left feeling that he was kind of a douchebag for throwing his partner of 8 seasons under the bus. why ABC would develop a new drama starring fillion and not katic is beyond me (though i wouldn't blame her for not wanting to come back even if ABC did make her an offer). anyway, i ended up liking rookie even though i was very much ready to hate it.
i woke up at 3:30am after having slept for about 2 hours to leave my house by 4am to go to my parents' place where we were scheduled to leave for the airport by 4:30am. that early in the morning, there was hardly any cars out on the road, i saw about 6. the most awkward part is waiting at traffic lights when the streets are completely empty. traffic lights in those places should adopt a flashing yellow/red at intersections in the wee hours of the morning, so people don't waste their time waiting. my parents already had their suitcases waiting by the front door when i arrived. while they went through the house making last minute checks, i set up the timers. i also turned off the furnace. if the temperature drops to the point where it warrants turning it back on, i will. but their furnace is one of those old fashion furnace that still burns oil even when it's not actually heating just to maintain the minimum temperature. i guess my rule of thumb is if i haven't turned on the heat at my place, i won't do it at my parents' either.
we left at 4:24am, my father driving. there was a bit more cars on storrow drive going into the city, a lot of people also heading to the airport. we arrived at logan airport terminal B by 4:45am. we could already see crowds of people inside the glass walls, with traffic jams of more people getting dropped off. after my parents removed their luggage, i got back in the car and returned to belmont.
one of my options was to drive back to cambridge, sleep in my own bed, then return to belmont later in the day to return the car. but when i left this morning, there was hardly any parking spots, and the spot that i vacated was already too tight for me to try and do a parallel park, so it was easier just to go back to belmont. i got back in under 20 minutes, even less cars leaving the city. i wasn't particularly sleepy, but crept into my parents' bed and read wall man manga on my phone. i called my parents an hour later to check on their status. they'd already checked in and gone through security, and was now waiting at their gate for their 8:15am flight. they were there way too early (3 hours), and there was no advantage since they couldn't pick their seats in advance but had to wait until the gate desk was opened, which wouldn't be until a hour before departure. when they checked in earlier, the only seats they could select was the flight from chicago to tokyo. boston to chicago and tokyo to taipei, they could only get remainder seats.
after having spoken with my parents, i decided to sleep a little after all. there was nothing to do anyway, and my plan of planting my garlic bulbs couldn't begin until the sun came out. i slept well, and as i had no obligations other than some gardening, i was in no rush to wake up. my sister interrupted my sleep around 10am with a text asking if i wanted to go hiking with her and her dog. i said no, said i was going to garden today. 30 minutes later i heard sounds in the house as they stopped by my parents' place while i was still sleeping. i decided to finally wake up, didn't want to waste anymore daylight, as there was a somerville street festival happening in the afternoon on somerville avenue that i wanted to check out.
i went into the backyard and started preparing raised bed 0 (RB0), the one closest to the back entrance, the smallest bed. it's where i grew my garlics this season, and i wanted to convert the entire bed to growing just garlic, with the possibility of some cucumbers on trellises and nasturtiums in the corners come next summer. there was currently still a large zucchini squash and some nasturtiums. i pulled the squash even though there were still a few baby squash; i figured this week there might be a killing frost, many of the leaves are already diseased, and it simply wasn't warmer enough for the tiny squash to mature. after pulling it out, i decided to get rid of the nasturtiums as well, so i could completely till the bed.
i dug out all the scallions, which i will plant back. these scallions are particularly special, just remaining scallion roots we bought from the supermarket and replanted. they look nothing like store scallions, which are pencil thin. these are thick, like broom handles, more leek than scallion. also when i was tilling the soil i found a lot of garlic bulbs. they were already sprouting, so it made it easier to find. at first i thought they were hard neck garlics i planted last fall that i failed to dig out, but i think they're actually normal store bought garlics my father decided to plant for fun to see if they'd produce more garlic. i dug them all out and set them again to be replanted later.
i went to home depot around noontime to get some bags of manure for the bed. they seemed to have cleared out a lot of their garden supplies, and i couldn't find manure anywhere. even their outdoor plant department was just pots of chrysanthemums, nothing else. all they had in terms of soil additives were either bags of potting soil or garden soil. i put 2 bags of garden soil on my flatbed cart. i thought they were $8.50 a bag (1.5 cu. qt.) but when the guy rung me up, i saw they were only $6 a bag. so i decided to get 4 more for a total of 6. i also went inside to look for a miter box. home depot online said they had them in stock, when there was nothing when i went to the aisle/bay. i could've asked somebody for help, but decided not to waste time and try a different home depot later in the week.
back in belmont, after offloading the bags of garden soil into the backyard, i ended up emptying 2 bags of soil into RB0. the new garden soil was on the wet side and had a rotting smell which reminded me of manure. i mixed it with the existing soil to give it a drier consistency. i replanted the scallions back in their original spot. with the rest of the bed i started digging holes with my fist, about 2-3 inches deep and 6 inches apart. instead of rows, i did a honeycomb pattern. i thought i'd have a lot of red korean garlic cloves left, but i ended up using 6 bulbs, as each bulb only contained 6-7 cloves. i still have 5 more bulbs, which i will plant elsewhere (most like RB2). i read it's important to have light, fluffy soil so the garlic roots can have an easier time growing. after filling the bed, i still had a bit of room, so i separated some of the garlic bulbs i grew this season and planted the cloves. these are also hard neck (like the red koreans) but i don't know which variety. i also grew them from very small cloves, and they're not very big yet, although bigger than what they were before. growing garlic takes patience, as i won't be able to harvest these garlics until the summer, so it's going to take 9-10 months.
my sister was originally going to take hailey for a walk in the woods, but when i told her i needed a ride back to my house (otherwise i'd need to take the bus, and sunday buses run just every hour), she waited around until i finished with my garlic planting. i also planted some spring beauties (Scilla siberica) i bought from OSJL. and those regular garlic bulbs i found, i replanted them along the side of RB1 after sectioning it off and filling the "well" with fresh garden soil. my sister also helped me to fix the splitting corner on RB0 with a metal L-bracket.
i was finally finished by 2pm. my sister stopped by the cafe to pick up some refrigerated wild mushrooms to give to michael before finally dropping me off at home. it felt weird to be back, almost like i went away for several days, even though i was just here early this morning. it was cool in the house (65°) so i plugged in the aquarium heater. after using the bathroom, i left the house for the somerville street fair. i hadn't had breakfast or lunch yet, so i quickly ate a banana. there was a costume parade at 3pm i wanted to check out.
i never left the house today. the weather this morning was still raw, remnants of hurricane michael passing through southern new england. it was far enough offshore that we didn't get drenched, but it still rained a little bit, and at one point the sky got very dark. by the afternoon the clouds dissipated somewhat and there was even some sun, but it was too little too late. everything was still drying so i couldn't do any paint work and with my parents leaving this weekend there was no need to take a trip to haymarket. sunset was at 6:05pm.
my sister sent me photos of wild mushrooms she was encountering while hiking in the woods. with the rain we got yesterday, the forest floor was full of fungi. she sent me a bunch that looked like hen of the woods, which i also learned are known as maitake mushrooms. as such, they're definitely edible and have medical beneficially uses like increasing immunity and anticancer and hypoglycemic agents. hen of woods can be confused with turkey tail mushrooms, but those are thinner and leathery, not at all edible looking. there's also chicken of the woods, but those are unmistakably yellow to fluorescent orange. hen of the woods like growing at the base of oak trees, and that's where my sister found them, and they're found in late fall and early autumn. she didn't bring a bag so she wrapped up the mushrooms in her jacket and brought them home.
i spent 2 hours flashing the t-mobile TM-AC1900 to an asus RT-AC68U router. the $40 TM-AC1900 is essentially the same as the $140 RT-AC68U, except it's rebranded as a t-mobile router with some special t-mobile wifi calling features and a proprietary firmware. i don't think t-mobile supports this router anymore (meaning no more firmware updates), that's why it's been showing up online selling at a discount. fortunately the TM-AC1900 can be hacked and converted to a normal asus RT-AC68U router.
i studied the steps late last night before bed and then continued reading up on the steps so i was familiar with everything. most of the online instructions are for the PC (including the primary source), but all the steps either involves web browser work or linux commands, of which the mac is more than capable. there were two mac instructions, a written and a video. the former was way more technical than required, while the latter was helpful but the narrator was a bit meandering and some of his steps required additional commands he either glossed over or simply didn't mention. i ended up following the primary instructions but using the video as a secondary source. from a different website i also picked up a few additional tips (like use CFE 220.127.116.11 US AiMesh instead of CFE 18.104.22.168).
the steps for flashing the TM-AC1900 to RT-AC68U isn't all that crazy. a total of 3 different firmwares needed to be flashed along with a modified common firmware environment file (CFE).
the first firmware to be flashed is actually an older version (22.214.171.124_376_1703-g0ffdbba) of the existing firmware on the TM-AC1900 router (126.96.36.199.376_2827-g566ef60). the reason why an older firmware needs to be flashed is the older version supports SSH, which is a remote protocol that allows us to log into the router remotely and issue some special linux commands which can't be done through the router's admin page. newer versions of the firmware removed SSH support probably for security reasons since it's not something most normal users would need to use and having it accidentally on might allow hackers to gain access to the router.
the instructions said to put assign a static IP for my computer, but since the DHCP server was still functioning on the router, i could simply just connect to the router directly and would automatically be assigned an IP on the same subnet mask and gain access to the router. fortunately my thunderbolt to ethernet adapter arrived a few weeks ago so i could take advantage of it (flashing a router via wifi is too dangerous). i don't know if the TM-AC1900 admin page would allow me to flash an older firmware, but the directions said to place the router in recovery/restore mode. how that's done is by doing a 10-10-10 reset: hold the reset button for 10 seconds, power off and hold the reset for 10 seconds, power on and continue to hold the reset for 10 more seconds. then by going to 192.168.29.1 (the router's address) it should bring me to the mini-CFE webpage, but it didn't.
instead i had to do a NVRam reset, which means powering off the router, waiting 10 seconds, then power back up the router while holding down the WPS button until the power button starts flashing quickly. when the router rebooted, i went to the router's address from chrome and found myself at the router's admin setup page, not what i wanted. so i did another 10-10-10 reset which finally did bring me to the mini-CFE webpage. using chrome, i choose the old firmware file saved on my computer and hit the upload button. after a few minutes the browser went to a blank page, which meant the router had rebooted. but when i went to the router's address, i got the admin page but the firmware was still the new version, not the old. i also know this because there was no SSH option. so i 10-10-10 reset back into the mini-CFE webpage once again, this time using the safari browser. i did the same thing as before, waited several minutes, but this time instead of advancing to a blank page, it told me that the upload was completed and told me the system was rebooting. once the router was back online, i went to the admin page and saw that the firmware had been downgraded. it gave me the option to enable SSH which i did.
when i tried to SSH into the router, it gave me an error. i had to find a fix on my own and came up with this command to run on my OSX terminal:
ssh -oKexAlgorithms=+diffie-hellman-group1-sha1 email@example.com
that seemed to do the trick and let me gain access into the temp directory of the TM-AC1900. i issued this command:
cat /dev/mtd0 > original_cfe.bin
to make a copy of the CFE file. i copied original_cfe.bin using a modified scp command issued from the local terminal instead of within the router:
# copied director (-r recursive) - creates a "root" directory with original_cfe.bin and authorized_keys
scp -r -oKexAlgorithms=+diffie-hellman-group1-sha1 firstname.lastname@example.org:/tmp/home/root .
scp -oKexAlgorithms=+diffie-hellman-group1-sha1 email@example.com:/tmp/home/root/original_cfe.bin original_cfe.bin
the first command i used essentially just copied the root folder. later i discovered a more exact command, but i already got the copy of original_cfe.bin. the CFE file had to be modified from a t-mobile to an asus. it can be done manually using a hex editor, but fortunately there are online resources that will modify the CFE file for me.
i put the 3 files i needed to copy (new_cfe.bin, mtd-write, FW_RT_AC68U_30043763626.trx) into a folder and then cd into that folder before issuing a scp command to copy the files onto the router:
# within the /upload directory (3 files to be uploaded)
scp -oKexAlgorithms=+diffie-hellman-group1-sha1 * firstname.lastname@example.org:/tmp/home/root
i then SSH'ed into the router and issued 3 commands:
chmod u+x mtd-write
./mtd-write new_cfe.bin boot
mtd-write2 FW_RT_AC68U_30043763626.trx linux
that last command flashed the 2nd firmware onto the router, an asus firmware. that only worked because we also flashed the new CFE file onto the boot directory of the router. the asus firmware isn't the latest version, but supposedly one that doesn't have new security checks that looks to see if the router is a TM-AC1900 and will revert back to the t-mobile firmware if discovered.
when the router booted up, from my network panel i could see that the default router address had changed from 192.168.29.1 (t-mobile) to 192.168.1.1 (asus). when i entered the address (192.168.1.1), it took me to the admin page, which now said asus RT-AC68U. success! but i want to update the firmware to the latest version, and to do that i needed to format the MTD5 partition to remove all traces of t-mobile, otherwise when new asus firmwares get installed, it won't revert to the t-mobile firmware because it detected a t-mobile router. so i SSH'ed into the router, this time at the new default address:
ssh -oKexAlgorithms=+diffie-hellman-group1-sha1 email@example.com
and then issued the following commands:
cat /dev/mtd5 > /jffs/mtd5_backup.bin
mount -t jffs2 /dev/mtdblock5 /tmp/asus_jffs
rm -rf /tmp/asus_jffs/*
sync && umount /tmp/asus_jffs
rm -rf /jffs/.sys/RT-AC68U
nvram unset fw_check && nvram commit && reboot
once that was done, i went back to the admin page, to Administration/Firmware Upgrade, and uploaded the latest firmware file (our 3rd firmware update) which i downloaded earlier, 188.8.131.52.384_32799. and with that i finally have a brand new working asus RT-AC68U router!
it actually wasn't that difficult, and only took as long as it did because i double and triple checked every single step to make sure i didn't make a mistake and accidentally brick the router. having done it once, i think if i were to do it again, i could probably hack another TM-AC1900 in under 20 minutes. it makes me want to upgrade my current router, which i just upgraded from an old DD-WRT flashed tp-link to an asus RT-ACRH13. the RT-ACRH13 is okay (better than the old tp-link anyway) but it's nowhere as robust as the RT-AC68U. what makes it worse is i paid $45 for that router, when i can get another TM-AC1900/RT-AC68U for just $40, so i'm seriously thinking about if i should make another upgrade, and pass down my current RT-ACRH13 to the cafe, where it's currently running a DD-WRT tp-link.
my sister called me, said there was a car flipped upside down behind the cafe, and to see if i could see it with the webcam. i thought she meant in the parking lot, but it was actually out on the street. sure enough, there was a car that had somehow landed on its roof, and a crane was in the process of tipping it over. the whole street was blocked so my sister couldn't get back into the parking lot. not sure what happened but in hindsight i should've turned on the police radio so i could hear the conversation.
my sister dropped off the mushrooms at the cafe and my parents were busy cleaning them up. at one point my mother sent me a photo of a red-striped salamander that'd been hiding in the mushrooms (my father released it outside in the garlic chive box). later my father sauteed some of the mushrooms while freezing up the rest of it. my sister said she must've carried 20 lbs. worth of hen of the woods, and said there was even more but she couldn't carry them all.
for dinner i cooked up some ramen, but added some scallions, eggs, and tomato slices to make it a little healthier. for dessert i crunched on a honeycrisp apple. nothing good on television tonight, but this weekend will feature plenty of sports, including a red sox astros game happening at the same time with a chiefs patriots game sunday night.
i biked to market basket this morning to get a few things (a dozen to be exact, so i could check out in the express lane) before the storm arrived: yogurt and granola for breakfast next week, some frozen spinach and cheese raviolis for dinner. the few droplets of rain i felt made me nervous but the storm held off until the afternoon. i was happy to see that the abandoned junk bikes that are usually locked to the rack have finally been removed. if i had to guess, i think it was the work of concern local cyclists instead of the MB staff, since those bikes had been there for almost a year without anyone doing anything about it. what i didn't like is they made some headfirst parking spots in that alleyway behind greentown lab. now that area is super tight and it's only a matter of time before there's an accident with a delivery truck smashing into one of the parked cars.
i moved my potted plants indoors, afraid they might either get flooded or strong winds could topple them. when the storm did come - a very dramatic darkening of the sky - the loud clatter of raindrops only last for a short while, while most of the day was fine.
i finally got around to cleaning my aquarium. the last time was in early august, so it seems like every 2 months i do a cleaning. if i was a more responsible fishkeeper i'd do it at least once a month. i did a thorough cleaning, changing the activated carbon and removing the planted driftwoods to gently scrubs the leaves between my fingertips in the sink. i also used my temperature gun to measure the water temperature from the tap - which is much quicker and convenient - instead of using a floating thermometer.
ever since i realized i could do water changes instantly with treated tap water, my aquarium life has been much easier, so there really is no excuse for not cleaning more often. the fish don't seem to mind (i haven't lost any and they seem healthy enough) and i can adjust the water temperature. the way i did it before, with the cistern, in hindsight that was a bad idea because the water sits there for weeks and even months, and occasionally weird light-free algae grow in the cistern. also the water is always room temperature, and during the winter it's too cold and in the middle of the summer it's too warm.
i wish my java ferns would grow better. they're not dying, but they're not really getting any bigger. i discovered a few clumps of soft black thread algae growing in the fern thickets. maybe they're the reason why the ferns aren't thriving. many of the leaves have dark ends and black spots. do i need stronger light? but java fern do very well in low light. or perhaps i just need to keep the water clean, so it's not as murky and more light can shine through.
my sister dropped off a pair of soft pretzels in the afternoon. this time they came with mustard. until very recently, i've never enjoyed a soft pretzel before, and that goes without saying that i've never ate a pretzel with mustard before either. i tried it, i like it, but the mustard flavor was overwhelming, and i really like the taste of a plain salted soft pretzel, doesn't need anymore enhancing.
the t-mobile TM-AC1900 router ($40) arrived today, along with a few more packages for frances. are they sure its certified refurbished, and not just a new router? because i can't tell the difference, it seems to come in all of its original packaging and documentation, it even has a new router smell. when i have time i'll look up the steps for flashing a new firmware onto the router.
after watching a youtube video titled, "how to fix a sticking door," i was inspired to fix some sticking doors of my own. my problem isn't exactly the same: i didn't need to bend any hinges. instead, the hinges themselves seem to be coming loose, on both bedroom doors. i've neglected the problem thinking it was too much of a hassle to fix, but all i had to do was to shim the door with some layers of cardboard then tighten the door frame screws on the hinges. and viola! now these doors swing open and close without sticking. i should've done this earlier.
i had spinach and cheese ravioli for dinner. it's sort of one step removed from processed food (or maybe it is processed food), but it's easy to prepare and i feel stuffed afterwards. $1 for a bag of frozen raviolis (single serving), $2.50 for a jar of pasta sauce (enough for 2 servings), some powdered parmesan cheese as a topping.
alex introduced me to origin, a manga about android assassins. the artist is boichi, a south korean illustrator working in japan. the art is unlike the typical cartoonish manga style, and reminds me of ero guro - japanese grotesque art.
around 10:30am my father stopped by my place on his way to market basket to help me install a new door bottom. we installed the previous door bottom back in october 2015
; in just a month, my former spanish ana destroyed it from her incessant coming and going into the backyard for her smoke breaks
. these are probably not the most durable of door bottoms, but just the only one i can find at home depot. i've had the replacement since 2015, but only now getting around to finally replacing it. taking a door off its hinges is a two person job; i might be able to remove it by myself, but putting it back on definitely requires two people. the fact that we've done it before worked to our advantage. however, i did forget that we were never able to actually remove the hinge pins, because we weren't able to remove the bottom caps.
instead, we have to remove the hinges themselves from the door frame. since we had the old door bottom (minus the insulating fins), we used it as a template to figure out where to drill the screw holes. we also used the old door bottom to figure out how long the new bottom should be. once the new bottom was tightly screwed onto the door, we put the door back onto the frame. that was actually the hardest part, as the french door was actually quite heavy (which is good, you don't want an exterior door to do so light somebody could just smash through it). while my father put in the few initial screws, i was in charging of either lifting or lowering the door so the hinges sat flush with the door frame. we were finally done by 11:30am. now i no longer have a big gap underneath my back door that i can see through, and the 5 fins of the new door bottom will keep the draft outside. the only loser here is the door snake, now out of a job. i'm sure in a few years, when the door bottom wears away, the snake will be back.
my father left for market basket while i rode the bicycle to the cafe. i biked this time because i wanted the exercise and didn't want to worry about parking, either at the cafe or back at home. my mother fixed me a bowl of rotisserie chicken noodles.
my plan today was to do some patch work, a combination of wood filler and caulk, and depending on how long it took it dry, i would also apply the first coat of primer paint. however, paint prep work is like doing an audit on the overall condition of the work surface; if there's something wrong with the house, i will find it. i already knew the molding around the bottom of the porch columns had a bit of rot. when i gave it a closer inspection, i discovered all the molding were rotten, and the rot had gotten to small parts of the columns themselves, like cavities.
while thinking about what to do for the column rots, i went ahead patching any holes or uneven surfaces with wood filler. plastic wood works great, but it dries pretty fast, and i could already see the surface of the wood filler drying up in the can as i did my patch work. after that i went ahead with the caulking. basically any seams where water my collect needed some caulk. the hardest parts were the joints where the arches met the columns; space was tight, i couldn't get the caulking gun nor even my finger down into the gap. instead i would dribble caulk into these crevasses then using a wet paper towel press the smooth the caulk into place.
i finally stopped working by 3:30pm. my other plan was to go back to home depot to buy a miter box to cut the molding strips into the right angles. but it was already getting kind of late, and since it'd be raining tomorrow and friday, i wouldn't be working until next week anyway, so i can just wait until the weekend to buy it.
there's some molding strips in the cafe basement. one of them is about the same size but has a different pattern. i might use that, or buy some additional molding.
i also helped my father install a new exhaust fan at the back of the cafe. the one was making a loud noise, not worth trying to fix as the fan itself is coated in sticky black grease and he has a bunch of spare fans anyway (salvaged from old restaurant equipment like commercial freezers). we attached the fan to the cable cord using wire nuts and then my father screwed the fan to the wall by the window.
i went home where i had a rotisserie chicken croissant sandwich again (i got another croissant from the cafe).
i went to the cafe around 11am to continue paint prep work at my sister's place. today was more heat gun stripping, orbital sanding, and manual paper sanding. i worked a solid 4 hours without breakfast or lunch, passing the time listening to 80's and 90's music streaming from google radio. i stopped at 3pm because i needed some wood filler and caulk for repairs. i searched the cafe basement for some leftover molding strips because i discovered some rotting molding on the porch. i ate some curry rice noodles and my father and i went to the watertown home depot.
we got back at 4pm. i was going to go back to the porch and do some patching but decided to wait until tomorrow, as it doesn't take very long for the filler (15 minutes) and caulk (30 minutes) to be dry enough to paint. i won't be able to finish painting this week anyway, as tomorrow is the last day dry this week. at most i can paint a primer layer on the porch, but my sister also asked me to paint her doors and the oil the landing, and those are two additional separate projects altogether.
instead i returned home before the start of the 5pm rush hour traffic. today was another unusually warm day and temperatures actually hit the 80's. thankfully it was still very cool inside my house. the temperature will begin dropping on thursday (with the arrival of rainstorms) then plummet this weekend when the highs will only be in the 50's and possible frosts overnight.
i finally finished my guacamole, i don't think i'll be having avocados for a long time. for dinner i made another rotisserie chicken croissant sandwich while watching game 4 of the red sox yankees series. boston ended up winning, advancing to the AL championship round.
columbus day - the least important of our holidays. besides banks, schools, and government offices, every place else seems to be opened for business. all my neighbors seemed to be home, judging from the packed curbside parking outside. temperature this morning was a solid overcast 55°F. when i arrived in belmont, i didn't see any contractors working on the neighbor's house across the street but the excavator machinery was gone (my guess is it was a rental and had to be returned).
i wasn't very hungry but my mother fixed up a bowl of chicken noodles. it took me a long time to finish though, as i kept getting distracted, whether it was creating a gmail account for my grandmother, setting up the android retina tablet my parents plan on giving her next week when they arrive in taipei, or backing up the photos on my father's moto phone onto the macbook pro (i had to recreate the directory catalog as items were missing).
the tablet i set up for my grandmother seemed to be working very well. i erased skype because nobody she knows uses it. they primarily use line in taiwan, but i can't set up an account without a phone number, so my parents will have to do it when they get there (my grandmother already has a line account). the 8" teclast P89 3G has very limited internal memory (and all the apps seem only abled to be stored internally) as i try to erase as much nonessentials as possible. my father ended up playing with the tablet to get the hang of it (so he can teach my grandmother), running a playlist of fei yu-ching music videos from youtube. i'm still a little confused as to why haven't any of my taiwanese cousins and aunts and uncles set up a tablet for my grandmother to use. some of them - especially my younger cousins and niece - are probably way more techn savvy. it's just ironic that her relatives living on the other side of the world should care for her more than her closest relatives.
at 1pm we left for the waltham costco. we were going to go over this past weekend, but waited until monday thinking it'd be less busy. and typically that's the case, but we forgot that today was columbus day, and with a lot of people having the day off, costco was only slightly less busy than a normal weekend day. my parents didn't buy much, just a few supplies for the cafe, to last for the 4 weeks that they'll be gone.
when we returned, we feasted on a rotisserie chicken along with some croissants. my mother asked me if i had any chinese-subtitled movies or shows for her and i streamed ant-man and the wasp from my computer. we had some tiramisu after the slices we left outside had thawed. when dinner rolled around, nobody seemed to be very hungry, and my parents sent me packing with some sliced rotisserie chicken and a few croissants. i left after finished downloading ant-man (2015) after my mother seemed to really enjoy the sequel.
though it didn't seem like it rained today despite the overcast, somehow i wasn't surprised when i found my motorcycle completely wet. it's the third time in so many days that i've had to ride home in the rain, though tonight was the least rainy of the three. it seemed that maybe a passing shower had just stopped. given the choice, i rather motorcycle home in the rain than ride the bicycle; the bike might be safer, but i prefer to get home as quickly as possible so i can dry off. i was relatively unscathed by the time i got back, just the seat of my pants were soaked wet.
after a hot shower, i was hungry so i made myself a rotisserie chicken toasted croissant sandwich with scallion slices. it was actually pretty tasty, reminded me of thanksgiving, just substituting chicken for turkey and croissant for chinese flatbread. i tried to get a live stream of AMC so i could watch the season finale of better call saul but was unsuccessful. instead i watched some football, then switched channel to watch 911 on FOX, then later the good doctor on ABC. i totally forgot that there was an important red sox yankees playoff game (3). i only heard the result during the evening news, boston trouncing new york 16-1. the red sox need one more victory to advance.