i called my father this morning to ask him how the electric meter exchange went. he said the inspector showed up, saw that the meter was still working, and left. i asked him if he showed the inspector that the online usage data has been blank since friday and he didn't. so the meter still isn't working. when i wrote back belmont light, nobody responded. i guess they freaked out because they thought the meter itself was broken; they could care less if we can't see any usage data. the only thing i can do is wait for the meter manager to return from vacation tomorrow and get in touch with him.
the baofeng amplifier arrived in the late morning. my father dropped by in the early afternoon to test it out from my house. the btech (baofeng brand) AMP-V25 VHF (136-174MHz) amplifier ($88) has a very simple function: it takes the low 1-5W power output from a baofeng handheld transceiver (HT) and amplifies it to 20-40W (label says 25-30W). the increased power can provide a longer reach for the typically limited baofeng HT. it worked, using the hanging DBJ-2 antenna, transmitting as high as 30.6W. tranmissions through the cafe simplex repeater sound louder, clearer, with less static. although it can also be configured in a few different ways, it's a one trick pony in that it can only amplify on the 2m band; for the 70cm we'd need to buy a different amplifier. my father picked this one because 2m is the band that works best for what we're doing. he left behind the amplifier (along with the SWR meter) and took back the QYT radio.
we had several bouts of torrential downpours today, on this warm and humid day. i went out to video record the gutters, which don't seem to travel down the down spouts anymore but instead cascade off the gutters from the sides like waterfalls. maybe okay when it's just rain, but come winter they're going to freeze and may damage the house. i told steve about it, told him i'd try to find some local contractors to fix it on the cheap, but so far no luck yet.
i ate the leftover fried chicken for lunch that my father brought over. for dinner i finished the remaining ribs and corn along with a croissant which i heated (the only thing that i was warm). when GC came home in the evening, he spent the entire night in the kitchen, eating and watching videos on my MBP. thank god i replaced all those recessed halogen lights to LED's otherwise it'd cost me a fortune keeping the kitchen lit all night long.
i discovered a new cache of torrents: rutracker.org, a russian forum. i was pointed to it as a good source of music albums after sorting through my mp3 collection and discovering i had missing music. i had to register first (using a junk e-mail) but once i was in - through the help of google translate - i was able to do some insightful searches. i found some obscure albums, and even more amazing, managed to download them without issues (betty boo, dean martin, some kind of wonderful soundtrack). a lot of these are in lossless FLAC format, which i never cared for since with my poor hearing i can't really tell the difference between FLAC and high quality mp3, so i convert them all to mp3's using the free mediahuman audio converter before erasing the FLAC files.
my mid-2012 MBP finally came back again around 3pm this afternoon. i spent all day waiting for it. it was well packaged and took a while to remove from the box. i was nervous to turn it on but it rebooted effortlessly, like a brand new computer. a fresh system was waiting for me to set up. i didn't believe it but those guys at L2 computer really pulled it off! i even told my mother the good news when she called. i was happy but still wary, but confident enough about the repaired MBP that i cracked open the case and reinstalled the secondary 500GB internal hard drive plus swapping the 4GB of RAM back to 8GB. i kept checking to make sure this was actually my original computer and not just a replacement. i then plugged it in and restarted the machine and everything went to hell again.
a lot of the symptoms from before came back: it wouldn't restart, the battery capacity display wouldn't turn off, the power cord LED was green when it should be amber (for charging), the power status wrong (running off of battery when it should be running off the power supply), and the bottom of the laptop turned hot. i ended up pulling out the RAM and replacing the original 4GB memories, which seemed to be better, but later removed the 500GB secondary drive as well, just to revert the machine back to the way it was before. L2 did fix the rebooting problem and it now reboots fine, but there's something wrong with the power management. sometimes it says the battery was zero, other times it said the battery was 75%. the external capacity indicator wouldn't turn off, and sometimes gave the wrong capacity. and it may or may not be charging the battery, since the power cord LED only glows green, but i did manage to get it to glow amber just one time and managed to charge the battery up to 100%. so it could be a bunch of issues. the charger itself was one suspect, but the machine won't reboot from the battery now (even if the battery is full charged) so it's more of a battery/power management issue.
i ran the apple hardware test (D-key on reboot, my very first time using those mode), which initially gave me an error code of 4SNS/ICOR (optical drive, which is normal, i don't have an internal optical drive anyway), but all subsequent tests gave me 4BAT as the error. i worked on this problem for several hours, but finally decided to buy a new replacement battery (which is easy to swap out) and see what happens: a HUSAN brand A1382 battery 7200mAh/77.5Wh for $60 (168 customer reviews, all 5-stars, A rating from fakespot), scheduled to arrive in belmont on wednesday (it wouldn't arrive until thursday if i had it shipped to cambridge).
if the new battery works, great, if it doesn't, then i'll need to contact L2 and see what they say. would they fix it again for the 3rd time? sending back the laptop is no big deal, and a working MBP beats a dead MBP any day, even if i have to spend another $12-15 to ship to back to NY. but at this point i wonder if it's even economical for them to try fixing it again. but it's either that or return my money.
later in the evening i managed to boot up the old MBP from battery. it booted fine, superfast from the SSD into the desktop. when i closed the lid to put the machine into sleep, it didn't like that, refusing to wake up. the battery capacity indicator strip was also all aglow and wouldn't turn off. i only managed to get it to wake when i plugged in the power cord. but the battery capacity still wouldn't turn off and remained on while the mac was sleeping. it only turned off when i shut down the machine. i really hope it's just the battery. the alternative - shipping it back to L2 for a 3rd repair - is doable but more of a hassle.
the MBP wasn't the only thing broken today; i discovered the electricity meter at my parents' place is acting funny, hasn't recorded any data since friday. occasionally the smarthub data gets glitchy, but i've never seen it not report for this long before. i called belmont light this morning but the receptionist told me their meter manager wouldn't be in until wednesday. so i wrote their customer service department an e-mail, which turned out to be the same woman in charge, and she wrote back saying that she didn't know how serious the problem was, and said they could send out a meter inspector this afternoon at 1pm to replace the meter. unfortunately i had to wait for my MBP, so i asked to schedule for 8am tomorrow morning.
my parents and my sister's godmother came by my place around noontime. they were all going to market basket but dropped by so i could sync up my sister's godmother's new xiaomi band 2 (which i got her while she was working on the west coast) with her xiaomi phone. my mother also wanted my help in transferring my parents' home owner insurance payments from one credit card to another, but i told her the premiums weren't due until another month and we had plenty of time to make the chance (like next weekend).
for lunch i made an english muffin sandwich stuffed with a fried egg (sizzled in butter), a spread of goat cheese, slices of prosciutto, and a sprinkle of furikake. the japanese seasoning was the wrong way to go but the goat cheese was a nice addition. for dinner (before GC came home) i ate half the ribs and corn from last night's barbecue, saving the rest for tomorrow. i also ate a white peach and finished some leftover cherries.
i woke up late, around 9:20am. of course GC was sleeping late as well, since his wake schedule seems to match mine for some reason. or maybe he forgot today is a friday. when i went to use the bathroom i found drops of urine on the tiles. GC just can't help himself. it's not like he wants to pee on the floor, but he's unable to process why it's a bad thing. he's only here for about 2 more weeks though, no point in starting up that awkward conversation again.
i noticed that my new used late-2013 MBP still feels slightly warm even when i put it into sleep mode. i found out the culprit was that i enabled power nap, which allows background updates and maintenance even when the machine is sleeping. i turned it off, hopefully this will keep my mac cooler.
my trek utility bike has been running with loose brakes for a while now, but it's gotten to the point where it's dangerous and even stopping flintstone style with my feet don't seem to work anymore. i finally took the time to adjust the brakes. the back brakes seem okay, but the front brakes don't catch at all, so i tightened them a bit. the entire bike could use an overhaul, replace all the cabling and change out some aging parts like the derailleur and the front rim that's beginning to crack. the backyard mosquitoes are something fierce, and i managed to get 2 bites on the back of my neck and killed 4 mosquitoes.
i paid a visit to the community garden in the afternoon. not to water since it rained a lot yesterday and will rain throughout the weekend; more just to check on the status and pick off any ripening fruits. i left with a bag of medium tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and eggplants.
afterwards i went to market basket to get some groceries. i planned on getting a large watermelon so i brought my bungie cord netting to strap the melon to the back of my rear rack. since the watermelon was still cold, i decided to divide it up, saving half while reducing the rest into cubes. i picked a good watermelon this time, completely solid and crisp.
i did a load of laundry and threw it into the dryer before i took a shower. this gave me a chance to get rid of the stink off the clothes i washed a week ago but left the wet clothes in the washer for too long. this time they came out smelling clean.
L2 computer sent me e-mail that they had shipped back my 2012 MBP. the e-mail wasn't specific with the status but i'm assuming they managed to fix the motherboard the 2nd time around, otherwise they would've either contacted me regarding a replacement or additional repair work or simply returned my money under their repair guarantee. it's been 9 days since i shipped out the laptop. if it's truly fixed, i plan on donating the repaired macbook pro to my father.
for dinner i heated up half a jar of classico tomato sauce combined with a package of frozen spinach and cheese italian raviolis. pasta is just so filling, i didn't feel like snacking afterwards like i sometimes get. GC came home around 9pm. he and his coworkers went out to dinner in honor of a tsinghua associate professor who was back in town attending a conference. i brought out a tray of watermelon while we watched a few season 2 episodes of better call saul on netflix.
i noticed it when i woke up briefly in the early morning to use the bathroom. the toilet was completely silent after i flushed it. normally there's a loud hissing sound as the tank gets refilled but i heard nothing. too early to do anything about it, i went back to bed. when i woke up proper hours later, i opened up the tank to investigate. after a flush, the tank was nearly empty, filling up at just a trickle. something was wrong with the fill valve.
the one that i have is the hydroclean 660, which i installed back in 2009 when my previous fill valve broke. it features an extensible tube that snakes around the bottom edge of the tank, squirting out jets of water to churn any accumulated debris on the bottom to keep the tank clean. at first i thought maybe there was a blockage in the j-tube. it took some effort to remove (after all these years the rubber tubing has hardened) but once i did, i noticed that the inflow was still weak.
GC was already finished with the bathroom. before he left for work, he casually mentioned that he shattered one of my glass tumblers. i use to have a bunch of those, but they're delicate and prone to breaking if you're not careful. this particular tumbler was GC's dedicated drinking cup, which he always left on the countertop and never washed so it was covered in fingerprints. this tumbler, plus the crack in my 1950's ceramic bowl, and him almost losing the drainage cup attachment on my rice cooker, i just hope he doesn't destroy anything else before he leaves.
i continued working on the toilet. toilets aren't difficult o repair, there are only so many parts, all of which can be easily replaced. i'm hoping in my lifetime someday i can replace an entire toilet, because even that doesn't seem very difficult. anyway, i began draining the tank, using a sponge to soak up the remaining water. i unscrewed the water inlet connector, figuring there might be a blockage there. but when i turned the water back on and drained it into a bowl, the pressure seemed fine. which meant the fill valve column itself was the problem. i shouldn't be surprised: early last year i was already noticing the fill valve acting weird.
i removed the fill valve and inspected it in the sink. nothing seemed to be blocked from what i can gather, but the whole unit seems to be built in a way that doesn't allow easy disassembly. besides, a new valve only costs $10, so it wasn't worth trying to fix. i put the valve back into the tank and reassembled everything. the flow was still a trickle, but i pumped the valve a few times and got the flow rate to increase to the point where it was splashing water out of the tank, but after that it went back to just a trickle.
i left the house at 10:30am and rode the motorcycle to the somerville home depot. that turned out to be a mistake. going to HD was easy; coming back turned out to be a congestion nightmare. it only took me a few minutes to find the replacement fill valve ($10) and check out with self-pay. that stretch of grand union boulevard (formerly ikea way) that goes beneath I-93 is a nightmare. the lights change too quickly, cars are making left and right turns, and the exit 29 offramp loads into this area as well. i must've spent 20 minutes just sitting there, inching my way forward. once i passed that, there was traffic in union square due to the ongoing GLX project, so inbound there's only one lane of traffic as cars get caught in the intersection when the lights change, creating further congestion. in the future: avoid this area at all cost! i finally got home an hour later, in what should've taken me half an hour.
for the most part, the new and old hydroclean 660 looked the same. the only real difference was the j-tube. in the new version, it wasn't extensible anymore. the modified instructions said you could cut it to length, but the end of the tube has a special cutaway to attach to the file valve column, so i'm not sure where you could shorten the tubing. after installing the new hydroclean, i took it out again to swap out the j-tube and the overflow tube (the new one is too long, the older one is just the right length). the toilet now worked just like before, with that familiar hissing noise of the tank refilling.
the rest of the day i stayed indoors. at some point i stepped on a piece of glass. it was only a small piece, but those are the worst because they're the hardest to remove. with my poor eyesight and the glass at a weird angle on the bottom of my foot, it was difficult to see. i finally managed to pull it out with some tweezers, but it still hurts when i walk on it, so maybe there's still a little bit of glass. it doesn't hurt however when i pressed down on the spot, which suggests the pain is from the small fissure itself. thanks GC! break my glassware, give me a glass splinter!
since i was on a watery kick today, i decided to clean the aquarium as well. the last time i cleaned was back in mid-june, so it's been almost 2 months, long overdue. the filter's so gunked up the circulation is on the slow side, giving the algae a good environment to blossom combined with the summer heat. algae is only forming on the glass though, and not on the live plants, which means it's easier to clean. if i did more frequent water changes there wouldn't be so much algae. i also changed the activated carbon. my java ferns are growing, but slowly. far better than what it was like before i added the fish, when everything was covered in algae. how can i get these ferns to grow faster?
the yogurt i had for lunch wasn't enough, as i ended up heating some pizza rolls in the late afternoon. GC told me he was going to play badminton after work so i expected him to return late. for dinner, i heated up a brick of stouffer's lasagna. there's still enough frozen and canned food in the house to last me a week without needing to visit the supermarket. GC came home around 9pm. unlike last time, they didn't grab dinner afterwards, and he cooked up some frozen dumplings for dinner.
my legs felt just as stiff and as painful as yesterday as i rocked myself out of bed, unable to bend below the waist without hurting. i frankenstein monsterwalk out of the bedroom and waited for my roommate to leave for work. john was sending me text and photos from his last day in the white mountains; he decided to climb the hi cannon trail, which features ladders. it sounded like fun, but i wouldn't have been able to tackle the rock scrambles, not with my legs in such poor shape.
i took two ibuprofens which gave me some limited mobility but the pain was still there. i weighed myself, thinking i'd lost some weight from all that hiking, but i actually gained weight. after a bowl of chicken sausage oatmeal for lunch, i went out to return my parents' car, stopping by the gas station first to fill up the tank. there was a promise of rain later in the afternoon and evening, so i didn't bother watering the garden, though i did inspect some of the cucumber flowers for beetles.
my return trip was on a bike, which felt like deja vu because i must've done this before. i couldn't bend my knees without hurt, and here i was pedaling my way home. i rode gently, overcoming not only the aches but also the intense heat and humidity. i stopped by the cafe briefly to give my parents a report of my hiking trip, then continued home. by that point i felt a few raindrops and decided to put the bike away in the basement.
it was just too hot to do anything. my plans of getting some groceries and cleaning the fish tank were all postponed. the only thing i did was to wash my hiking shoes as they smelled something terrible after 2 days of hiking.
somerville road crew were digging up the end of my street, in the neverending construction that is the beacon street bike path. ever since the cycle track was installed, there's been a bunch of drainage issues. i noticed it last week after a rainstorm that it'd stopped draining. they blocked the road, which caused a congestion in front of my house as confused drivers tried to make sense of the detour. by the late afternoon the repair was finished, a large new rectangular layer of mismatched asphalt the only sign that something happened.
GC returned home around 6:45pm. his dinner was thankfully odor free, just a simple stirfry of beef, eggs, and tomatoes. for my own dinner i heated up a frozen box of stouffer's stuffed bell peppers in the microwave. i finished watching avengers infinity war, which was well-made but super depressing, but i already knew the ending so it didn't come as a shock. afterwards i started watching disobedience (2017), that rachel weisz and rachel mcadams film, inspired after seeing so many orthodox jews vacationing in the white mountains.
i began my trip home by 2:30pm, after rifling through my stacks of homemade mix CD's and setting up the garmin GPS for a route back to cambridge. the estimate arrival time was 4:40pm, not bad, but i was afraid of hitting some traffic even though i was driving in the opposite direction of rush hour congestion. there was definitely more cars compared to when i came up early monday morning. driving 93 south seems like a non-stop series of leapfrog, passing one slow car after another. the closer i got to boston, the more cars there were, but i was never stuck in traffic. i got nervous and got off at exit 32 (medford center), even though the GPS told me to take 31. i just got back onto the highway and took the next exit. i didn't finally get home until 5pm.
i've found that the best feeling of any trip is coming home. being able to relax, recuperate, the familiar, all that's good. the house was empty but there was a faint fishy smell. i stripped out of my dirty clothes and took a hot shower. that also gave me a chance to evaluate where exactly on my legs was i hurting. so pretty much on the top of my thighs and my calves. i also had a small contusion on the inner arch of my left foot that i got on monday when i misstepped and crunched down into a small notch pressing my arch into a rock. it didn't hurt, but it looked more serious than it actually was. i also had a bruise on my left knee, not sure how i got that, maybe from kneeling down to take a photo and landing on it wrong. my toes were also a little sore, but the aches were minor compared to some of the other pains. my arms at the shoulders were also a little sensitive, maybe from carrying the backpack and the camera.
john went back to flume gorge. the threat of rain meant a lot of tourists stayed away so there weren't as many people as earlier. he got some great photos, it's definitely worth visiting despite the $16 admission fee (consider it a maintenance charge) and the potential for crowds of people.
GC came home in the evening and made what i thought was fish again but he was stewing his beef chunks which takes hours. i had some ramen for dinner, simple and delicious. i spent the rest of the night sorting through my photos. if you asked me after the hike if i ever wanted to come back to the white mountains, i would've told you no, but after looking at the photos, i would definitely do the franconia ridge trail again. if nothing else, then at least to take better photos, as i found most of my photos didn't quite capture what it's like to be walking along the ridge.
GC was in a hurry this morning, told me some coworkers managed to snag a badminton court and needed one more player. he left by 10am. after a shower, i went outside, and discovered GC had left the house key on the door. i left him a note and sent him a text that i put the key out back for him to find.
i first to the dollar store to stock up on some more beef jerky, then to star market to pick up a bag of cherries on sale. it was already a hot day, as i imagined myself hiking in these sort of conditions tomorrow. john texted me while i was out, we finalized the time and place we'd be meeting tomorrow in new hampshire (7:30am, days inn in lincoln).
i took the fuji bike and rode to belmont, trying not to go so fast that i'd break into a sweat, but i was a still a sweaty mess by the time i arrived. i had some oatmeal for lunch before we went on in the early afternoon for a supply run, first to the waltham OSJL, then to the waltham market basket. at OSJl my father was so hungry we got him a spicy italian sub and he ate in the car before continuing driving. at MB they still didn't carry the zilch jones soda but they did have the fiery cherry diet coke. i also bought a sub sandwich, half of which i'll have tomorrow morning for breakfast and the other half will be lunch on the mountain top.
after dinner i drove the camry back to cambridge. earlier my father cleaned it out, made sure the tires were okay and charged up the battery. he also put in the garmin GPS after finally finding the car recharging cable.
GC was just able to eat dinner, the house didn't smell so bad because he didn't cook up any seafood. i asked him if he could feed my fish for the next 2 days.
i've got an early morning tomorrow, wake up at 4am, leave by 5am, drive 2-1/2 hours to lincoln for a long day of hiking (8 hours at least, 8.5 miles). i scheduled to come back tuesday night, but if the weather looks nice, i might stay an additional day.