it was probably the heat, but i woke up at 7am this morning. my usual wake up time is 9am, so i lounged in bed, surfing the web from my phone, trying to get back to sleep, until it was time to officially get up. i wanted to leave early for chinatown/haymarket, while it was still cool outside, but didn't leave until almost 10am, the temperature already in the 80's (today's high would hit the 90's once more).

i arrived at ming's market at 10:15am. i planned on splitting my purchases, some stuff from ming's, some stuff from nearby c-mart. but when i went to c-mart, i noticed the produce prices were cheaper at ming's, so i bought what i needed, then went back to ming's a second time to finish out my list. all that back and forth took 45 minutes.

by 11am i pedaled down to haymarket via downtown crossing and post office square. i was already carrying a lot of stuff from chinatown, so i was limited in what i could buy. i ended up leaving with $12 worth of longans (4lbs), $7 worth of rainier cherries (2+ lbs), and a sleeve of garlic ($2). nobody had baby cucumbers, and the big beans vendor i saw last time didn't have any beans this time. i left haymarket via sudbury street, typically a one-way but now made into a two-way in order to alleviate the road block underneath the parking garage demolition.

i biked directly to the cafe to drop off the supplies, arriving at noon. i noticed michael had called me half an hour earlier so i called him back; he said he was having e-mail mailbox issues, i glanced at the clock, said i could get there in 20-30 minutes. i sampled a few longans before finally leaving.

my legs felt like rubber from the morning biking to boston and back, and i was a sweaty mess. i got to michael's store and looked at his computer issue. turns out his mailbox was full, but when he went to erase e-mails, it didn't fix the problem. i ended up logging into his webhosting account to access his webmail and erased old messages that way (his mailbox has a 500MB capacity). after that he was able to receive e-mails again.

i finally returned home by 1pm. first thing i did was to weigh myself, to see how much water weight i managed to lose from all that sweating. i then took a shower before making some tonkotsu instant cup of noodle for lunch, wasn't in the mood to make anything more complicated than that.

like yesterday, i didn't set foot outside the rest of the afternoon, stayed indoors with the AC turned on intermittently. i did think about taking a trip down to market basket to get some bounty paper towels on sale, but right when i was starting to get the impetus to leave, the sky darkened and a check of the doppler radar revealed severe storms imminent, in about 5-10 minutes. i quickly alerted my parents so they could bring in the patio furnitures.

not only was it a storm, but a thunderstorm at that. we had so few rain this summer, it was actually kind of weird to see it. in fact, i barely had to cover up my motorcycle this season due to the lack of precipitation. it rained for probably half an hour at most before stopping, and the sun even came out (it wasn't the sort of rain that produces rainbow so i didn't bother going out and checking). the news said we got about an inch of rain. a few hours afterwards, the sidewalks were already dried, although there were some leftover puddles. what i wouldn't give for a tropical storm to blow our way! the rain did lower the temperature into the 70's, but humidity was still very high.

i'm all caught up with for all mankind and evil. looking for something new to watched, i began watching severance, two episodes which i had on my thumb drive with a backlog of tv shows and movies. after seeing the first episode, i was intrigued enough to downloaded the rest of season 1 (just 9 episodes total). the story has a very strong philip k. dick vibe, and i believe it's actually loosely based on one of his short stories.

i got hungry in the late afternoon and remembered i had some store-bought potato salad (with horseradish) in the fridge. for dinner i finished the last two slices of quiche.

i tried to get out early today to beat the heat, but i didn't leave until 9:50am, when temperature was already in the 80's. i continued listening to my hardcore history broadcast, this one about the history of capital punishment (as it pertains to european history). one thing i like about running is how simple it is: i'm not thinking about anything, just focused on keeping pace, listening to my podcast, chewing my gum. it's almost like meditation.

it was hot but wasn't too bad, figured it could be worse, like if i was running in the afternoon with temperatures in the 90's. that drinking fountain midway through the run is a real life saver, and after running i looked like i came back from a swim because i was drenched in sweat. i only saw a handful of other runners stupid enough to be out when it's this hot. i saw a mother pushing a stroller wearing long pants and a hooded jacket. when i ran by her i saw she was wearing a hijab. devote muslim women must be so hot during the summertimes.

no free books today, but i did see a really pretty fabric face mask somebody had dropped (tempted to pick it up, but come on, face masks are gross), and a bonsai tree sitting onside an apartment window on a makeshift platform. i also checked out another silk tree. there's one on shephard-avon that i always pass by, but there's another one on wright st, which is sort of hidden because it's almost a dead end street and there's no easy access other than from martin street. i had time for the garden but decided not to go since i already watered late yesterday afternoon.

homemade greek dressing

3 part olive oil
2 part red wine vinegar
minced garlic
lemon juice
dijon mustard
dried oregano
ground pepper

basically add everything into a sealed jar and mix (small amount use a spoon, larger amount shake the jar completely). even making an even larger portion, use a food processor for proper emulsification. portions based on user preference, but these are the typical ingredients that go into the dressing.

back at home, my bathroom had that faint sewer gas smell again. after a shower the smell went away. i pulled out the container of greek salad from the fridge i bought on tuesday. i made my own dressing (salad doesn't come with dressing for some reason), was going to shake it in a jar, but the amount was small enough that i just used a spoon instead to mix the ingredients. there was too much salad in the container to easily eat, so i ended up dumping everything into a larger bowl. by that point i finally turned the AC on and was watching the midday news. i could probably make my own greek salad, and it'd taster so much better, and cheaper too. something to think about the next time i have a salad craving.

i didn't leave the house the rest of the day, just stayed indoors, trying to stay cool, as the outdoor temperature hit 96°F here in cambridge. i turned on the AC intermittently, allowed it to cool down the living room before turning it off, turning it back on after the room got hot again. we're in a very humid weather pattern, and i heard it won't let up until next thursday, so prepared to be miserable comfort-wise. i spent the day retroactively updating old blog posts.

my mother called me after work, after my parents got back home. she said after 2 days the water inside the stanley vacuum bottle was still hot, and said they decided to keep it. i told her i was returning that one and buying a different one, a 1.5qt instead of the 1.4qt exclusive from target. she didn't want one that was bigger (said the current 1.4qt was about the limit of what she could lift), but i said it was just slightly so, and it was cheaper too ($20, though there's an $8 shipping fee). i then went onto the stanley website and ordered the 1.5qt limited-edition classic bottle.

for dinner i heated up 2 slices of quinche after taking a shower. i was watching the latest episode of evil before switching to last week's episode of for all mankind (episode 8).

i heard noises from upstairs this morning. having lived here for 20 years, i've grown used to it and didn't even really notice. so it took me a while to realize it wasn't my upstairs neighbors - who are still in california for another week - but rather their housekeeper coming by to clean the place. when a place is empty for 2 weeks, does it really need to be cleaned?

i headed to the cafe a bit after 10:30am. i decided to go by bicycle and didn't bother bringing anything. at the 11am mark, we got 5 online orders in quick succession. chicken bento was the most popular item today, followed by chinese sausage, which is a surprise, because sausage ranks the least popular of the bentos.

around 2:30pm i was tasked with a supply run to the fresh pond trader joe's to pick up a few things: linguine noodles, scallions, baby cucumbers, milk, baby spinach, and garlic. it also gave me a chance to stock up on some snacks.

i left the cafe at 4:45pm. instead of going home, i went to the community garden to water. my orange bitter melon hasn't burst yet. ann was there, i haven't seen her in weeks. martin as well, who came to me and told me how much he loved my nigellas and how pretty they were.

around 7pm i started making dinner, which was a spinach and ham quinche. i realized while i was taking out the ingredients from the fridge that i got the wrong type of mozzarella cheese - solid instead of shredded. i could've shredded the cheese myself, but figured i'd use that for some future recipe and just get ready made shredded cheese from the super market. i went across the street to star market, which just recently reopened on monday after their electric fire last week. there was still an acrid smell in the store, but more importantly, a lot of their perishable foods were still missing, things like meats, and cheeses. i left empty-handed. i returned home, got my bike, and went down to market basket to get my shredded mozzarella. i didn't get back home until almost 8pm, and only then did i start making my quiche.

i had everything in the oven by 8:20pm, and it finished baking 40 minutes later. i left to cool for half an hour before cutting into it, but it was still a bit gooey. i had two slices, all that cheese really hits the spot.

i went out this morning for my tuesday run. temperature was already in the 80's, but it was a dry heat, so it wasn't too bad, just hot. midway through my run, i got a text message from WWY, "[dog emoji] go to taiwan," which was referring to nancy pelosi's trip to the island. apparently all of china was captivated by the news, watching her arrival live on television, while it wasn't as much as an impact here in the US. coming back, i came across some unwanted books somebody had put outside of radcliffe college. one of them was a copy of dune, which i picked up. i've seen the movies and the mini-series, played the board game, and read parts of the book electronically on my phone (a bad copy, with indenting and margin issues). now i finally have a physical copy of my own (although to be honest, i prefer reading it on the phone, can take it with me anywhere). this is the latest print, the 47th edition of the ace trade paperback edition that was first published in august 2005. there's even a bookmark (queen of spades playing card), i'm guessing the original reader only got as far as page 164 before quitting (and throwing out the book).

i got back home by 11:30am. somebody called me but i didn't recognize the number so i didn't answer it. turned it was michael, asking if i was available for dinner this week. i called him back, we made arrangement to get something to eat at 5:30pm. he recommended a vietnamese restaurant in fields corner, one that his sister went to earlier and said the food was very good. i wouldn't have picked a place that far (dorchester! in rush hour!), but since michael was driving and was game for some distance, i had no complaints.

my mother called during my run earlier, asked me to get some baby cucumbers. after a shower, i worked on my own grocery list, watched a bit of news, then rode the motorcycle to market basket to get the cucumbers as well as some bean sprouts. the rest i got for myself, decided to make a quiche pie for dinner this week, assembled an assortment of cheeses as well as some frozen spinach. i stopped by my place to drop off my groceries before taking the remaining supplies to the cafe.

when i got to the cafe, i was relieved to find the key to the back door which i thought i'd lost. i spent the whole weekend worrying where it might be and it was at the cafe the whole time. i got stuck for about 40 minutes as i helped out with orders and cooked some eggs (for tea eggs). we're out of tea egg spice packets, i'll need to get some, but we should be good for 1 more week.

the whole reason why i came out wasn't just to deliver some supplies, but rather to finally return the bar sink at home depot. i went to belmont to retrieve it, but realized i didn't bring my bungie netting. instead i found an adjustable strap and carefully tied the box to the back of my motorcycle.

this time around - with the right credit card - i was able to return the sink without any problems. after that i went to best buy across the street at the watertown mall (which is scheduled for demolition in the near future) to check out their selection of countertop ovens. a lot of ovens there were of the flat pizza-heating variety for some reason (i don't like this new trend at all). looking inside, seeing all the racks stacked so closely together, made me think of limbo, "how low can you." i took some photos then moved on to target.

target had way better selection, though it seems the entire store is gearing up to supply college students. i did see floor models of the two ovens i'm most interested in: the oster XL air fry oven, and the ninja foodi XL pro air oven. they also had the calphalon air fry countertop oven out on display (they had one at best buy but it was boxed). i like the more rugged design, but i don't like there's only two rack position. far as these ovens go, the ninja seems to include the most accessories (2 wire racks, 1 air fry basket, 2 sheet pans, 2 roast pan), but the oster has the largest capacity, able to fit 2 16" pizzas. the knock on the oster ovens i've heard is the very thin glass door can get hot.

after checking out the ovens, i went in search of insulated bottles. not the kind you use for sport, but the kind you have for camping, to keep drinks hot. for that i made my way to the camping section. stanley makes a 64 oz. growler ($35), but what i was interested in was their classic vacuum bottle. they carried a 1.4qt ($30) which seems like a target exclusive model. i couldn't resist and ended up buying it, with the firm understanding that i'll return it at some point after comparing it to our current thermos insulated bottle. i also bought some aussie shampoo for curly hair before finally leaving.

i returned to belmont to do one more important thing: to feed all our backyard plants with miracle-gro. last season i feed our garden with miracle-gro every 2 weeks, and we got amazing results. i didn't do that this year because we added chicken manure to the raised beds. but now that all the plants are in distress, i'm going back to the miracle-gro. it may not help since the problem is not so much lack of nutrients, but rather too much heat and most importantly not enough water. i ended up making 5 3-1/2 gallons of miracle-gro solution using what was left of the rain water. for some reason the rain water was yellow, and combined with the blue miracle-gro powder, made for a green solution. i finally left by 3:50pm, getting back home by 4pm.

there was a strong sewer smell in the house coming from the bathroom piping. i still don't quite know where it's coming from. i even went down to the basement but couldn't smell it there, so there must be a seam leakage probably higher up on the cast-iron sewer stack. after a shower the smell seemed to have gone away. it only happens when it gets really hot. i noticed it last summer, and then it disappeared, but now it's back again, intermittently, during hot weather.

michael showed up at 5:30pm right when i was outside taking out the trash. we headed to dorchester, first getting onto the turnpike from cambridgeport, then taking the HOV lane on 93. it seems we were the only car in that lane, everyone else seemed to be driving solo, or weren't able to get into the express lane. that saved us a lot of time as we sped by the bumper-to-bumper traffic jam on I-93 south. having never been in michael's car before, i learned something: he's an aggressive driver! it gets us to where we want to go faster, but there were a few times when i thought we'd get into a collision.

michael told me he was familiar with the dorchester/JP area from having gone to brookline high school. we made it to fields corner and found the restaurant - pho hoa - and a free 2-hour parking spot right across the street.

pho hoa! my old haunt! back when there was one on chinatown, that was my goto spot for pho. after a fire, that chinatown space is currently empty, and i don't know if they'll reopen (high rent and all). but at least they're still here in fields corner.

i was just going to order pho, but michael was saying his sister got the special 7 course beef combination ($46), so we decided to try it out. especially since michael only eats vegetarian or kids food at home, so he was craving some serious meat action. we also got a additional order of salt & pepper fried calamari as well as some vietnamese beer.

the waiter sat us by a window seat but we moved because the setting sun was shining right in my face. this was my first time eating out since the pandemic - so more than 2-1/2 years. the restaurant was doing good business, moderately busy on a tuesday night, mostly asian customers (i assume many vietnamese, but a table next to us was chinese) and a handful of non-asian customers as well.

the 7 beef special is good for people looking for adventure, with 7 varieties of vietnamese beef dishes. i didn't know beef was so popular in vietnam. first was the beef fondue in heated vinegar sauce (rolled up in rice wrapper), followed by a beef salad. then grilled beef in heated butter (rice wrapper as well). next came two types of beef skewers - grilled lemongrass and grilled betel nut - as well as a steamed beef meatloaf ball. finally we ended with some beef congee. it came with a house fish sauce that was too ripe for michael. i however put it on my food as much as i could, but the stink permeated my hands as i struggled to make the beef spring rolls, and even after washing it in the bathroom, the smell wouldn't come out.

in the end we both thought the 7 beef special was okay, but not enough to drive all the way out to just have. we left pho hoa by 8:15pm, getting onto I-93 north from the JFK/umass rotary then connecting onto the turnpike back to cambridge. i got back home by 8:45pm.

a package had arrived for me earlier: my new oral-b smart limited toothbrush. it was slightly larger than my old oral-b toothbrush, with an illuminated collar when turned on made it look like a child's toy. the light is useful for slightly illuminating your mouth while brushing, but also functions as a pressure alert light when you brush too hard. it came with a plastic storage case, 2 cross-action brush heads, and a charging station. i tried out the toothbrush. it has 6 brushing modes, but i used the default, which is regular brushing. to get it to show the red alert light, i had to press down very hard, so i'm glad i've been brushing with the normal amount of pressure. the oscillation seems pretty robust - supposedly 500% more effective than regular brushing, compared to my old oral-b which is only 300% more effective (and with a depleted battery, so who knows how well that old electric toothbrush was working).

later i connected it to the oral-b brushing app on my phone (yes, the toothbrush has bluetooth). apparently in order for smart brushing to work, you need to mount the phone on the bathroom mirror at face-height and turn on the camera. so that's where the "limited" comes from, because my toothbrush did not come with the suction mirror mount shown in the instruction manual. instead i brushed using the app while holding the camera up against the mirror. it showed a teeth map and where and how effective you were brushing. i question the accuracy because i was brushing my upper teeth but it showed my lower teeth being brushed. there was also a timer indicating how long you've brushed, but the 30 second quadrant vibration didn't happen. after i finished (turning off the toothbrush), the app gave me a score and informed me areas that i needed more work brushing. i think it's all very gimmicky, not really useful unless you're training a child how to brush. the fact that it needs the phone to be mounted and camera turned on was something never mentioned in all the oral-b smart brush advertisement i saw. i don't think i'll use it again. essentially the only thing the oral-b app is useful for is to check how much battery is left and to change the color of pressure sensor light.

i went to the garden this morning to water, on my way to belmont. it must've rained a little bit overnight, because i noticed a lot of leaves were wet. i harvested a few more tomatoes (regular and cherry), some long beans, and a bitter melon. i noticed another ripe orange bitter melon, going to wait for it to burst before collecting the red seeds. even though i currently don't have any hyacinth beans, i see new shoots emerging that will be future flowers and then future beans. likewise with the long beans: i didn't see any new flowers, but there was a bunch last week, and now i'm going to receive a flush of long beans before they flower again.

arriving in belmont, my parents were also harvesting. my mother went around the raised beds snipping off long beans. we also found a few dried blue bean pods and some dried long beans. the blue bean pods didn't look like anything, but when we broke through the dried pods, there were some dark blue bean seeds on the inside. we currently have about a dozen blue bean seeds total. if we're looking to grow a lot of them for next season, i'd like to get some more seeds, 30-40 at least.

for lunch i had a fried pancake rolled up with some pork floss. my mother finished watching reacher last night, and i recommended to her jack ryan, which i remember her saying she'd watched, but she didn't remember any of it, so started watching from season 1 episode 1. my sister dropped off hailey in the early afternoon. i replaced the living room wyze 2 webcam with a eufy 2k webcam. the has better clarity and it doesn't have the wzye's annoying limitation of only recording one video notification every 5 minutes. finally, we put up some curtains in my mother's bedroom using the spring tension curtain rod i bought a few weeks ago. we thought it was too long, but i managed to press it down hard enough so it was just 30 inches long, wide enough for the window. the western facing window currently has cellular shades, but my mother said they're too bright and they wake her up in the morning. there was just enough space in the window's inner dimension to install the tension rod in front of the shades (it helps that the shades are soft).

in the late afternoon i went outside to water the garden. i noticed the rain barrel gauge showed the barrels were at 1/4 capacity. i told my father, he said that was enough to water the garden for 2 days.

many of the blue bean leaves have white spots, especially the older leaves. there are also similar spots on neighboring plants, like ground cherries. it is climate related, heat damage from the dry and hot weather? or is it disease? or perhaps insects? my money is on insect damage, but i haven't seen any bugs other than a few flea beetles. could they have done all that damage? the problem is further exacerbated by the lack of additional plants, which would not only provide additional food choices for bugs, but more importantly, they attract beneficial insects, like ladybugs and drone flies. they used to be everywhere last season, but this year i've hardly seen them at all.

my father has been having some issues with our DIY lithium battery boxes. he's been running the thermoelectric cooler from one of the batteries, but after so many hours, the battery would shut down. the issue seemed to be BMS related but we couldn't figure out the reason. so he tried it with the other battery, and like the other one, it too shut down after a while. we finally realized the reason was we were cutting off the battery at 12.8V. technically a LiFePo4 battery can go lower than that, but in order to increase the longevity of the batteries, we set the low voltage cutoff to that amount. so everything worked as it should, and it's not because of bad battery cells.

for dinner my father cooked a tofu & chicken sausage stirfry and a long bean & bacon stirfry. he added thai basil to the bacon, which tasted weird, and it's probably my fault because i'd harvested a bowl of thai basil earlier (pulled off the flowers). we also had some bitter melon salad, which included the bitter melon i collected from my own garden, which my father said was already pretty ripe (leave it on the vine too long, the bitter melons will turn orange and you can't eat it after that).

there was some breaking evening news: the CIA launched a precision drone strike killing al-zawahiri who was hiding out in kabul, afghanistan. i almost forgot about him (he still alive?): after the death of bin laden, i figured al qaeda had been demolished, didn't realize al-zawahiri had taken the reins. are there anymore targets left for the US related to the 9/11 attack?

after returning home, i took a shower. i spent the rest of the night doing hydroponic/aeroponic/fogponic research. i definitely want to try building a low pressure aeroponic rig to grow some chinese mustard (which coincidentally the seeds arrived today). i also did some photo backups, to clear up space on my computer.

i went to the puerto rican parade in boston today. the last time i went was in 2018, with my old roommate GC. the last time i went was in 2019. the parade was on hiatus all throughout the pandemic (2020, 2021), so this was its first time back (2022). the biggest change is now it doesn't go through copley square anymore; instead it's been relegated to roxbury, which seems to be where all the hispanic-caribbean-themed parades are situated, with the route finishing at franklin park. there hasn't been much parading this year, as things are only now getting back to normal after 2+ years of pandemic distancing (despite coronavirus variants still very much active within the population - case in point joe biden, who had his second bout of covid). the only other parade i went to this year was the greek parade back in may, and that was a bit lackluster. typically there's the pride parade in june which provided a lot of photo ops, but because of infighting amongst the various LGBTQ groups, there was no pride parade this year.

anyway, woke up at 9am to get ready. the parade didn't start until noontime, so the latest i could leave was 11:30am but i wanted to get there a bit early so i can scope out a good vantage point for shooting. i was going to forgo breakfast/lunch, but decided to make myself an instant cup of noodle soup before i left. the hot noodles made me sweaty as hell. the only lens i packed was my 55-250mm, which is great for shooting long distance parades. i figured if i needed a wide angle, i'd use my phone. because it was sunny, i set the camera to aperture priority f/8 ISO 400, had no problems with exposures. i also packed my gopro and my fuji 3D camera. i filled my contigo mug with some ice water to keep myself hydrated. i left by 11:20am, taking the fuji bike, inflating the tires before leaving.

my bike route was basically crossing the mass ave MIT bridge into boston, then connecting onto the southwest corridor bikepath by northeastern university. i haven't biked in that direction for a few years now, but knew there was some new bike lane infrastructure that made it a look easier to travel. i arrived at the staging area by cedar street and columbus avenue by 11:50am. i'm glad i took the bicycle and not the motorcycle, because it allowed me to ride where ever i wanted, the police couldn't care less. they'd already closed off section of columbus avenue by then, so i had the whole street to myself as i looked for a good photo spot. i originally went as far as egleston square, but decided there'd be too much waiting for the parade to arrive, so i went down a bit farther towards the parade itself. they'd installed new silver line "stations" on man-made island platforms, which was the perfect perch to stand and shoot.

to their credit, the parade started pretty much right on time. leading the parade was a police escort of bike cops, followed by what appeared to be a military marching band. behind them i saw mayor michelle wu, as well as congresswoman ayanna pressley (now sporting her bald look).

there were prancing horses; goya music float; various beauty pageant reinas; local hispanic language tv network telemundo; noisy mopeds; even noisier custom cars with a wall of speakers in the trunk; indigenous island people costumes; children cheerleaders; colonial costumes (those seemed awfully hot and uncomfortable); and a convoy of cars to end the parade. the cars were the most puzzling; yes, many of them were customized, but there were also cars that seemed like normal cars decorated with PR flags; what they essentially created was a puerto rican traffic jam to finish off the festivities. i didn't bother waiting for the cars; so i started heading back home by 1pm.

on the way back, past inman square, my contigo mug fell out of bag and tumbled out onto the road. almost a dozen cars sped past it, narrowly crushing the mug. it would've definitely damage the mug, but i think it would also damage the car by exploding. it was a miracle that the mug didn't get crushed. after the cars all passed, i went to retrieve it. there were a few dents on the bottom, but all and all it wasn't that badly damaged. when i got back home i put ice water in it and it still insulated well.

after stashing the fuji bike back in the basement, i took a quick shower before leaving for belmont by 2pm. it was nice being in the motorcycle, not sure if i wanted to do anymore bike riding today. the thin handlebars of the fuji bike left red welts on my palms, i hope they don't blister up.

i found my mother alone in the living room with the AC turned on watching some indian movie on netflix. she told me my father was outside burning his tent stove again on another hot day. i went outside and found him sitting on the plastic picnic table underneath the maple tree sorting through the cilantro seeds. he had the sprinkler on to water the back lawn, but i turned it off because it was futile at this point to revive the grass. i didn't stay outside for long, did a quick tour, picked up a few hot peppers, then went back inside the house where my mother made some wonton soup. there was also a bitter melon salad which i ate all of it. i don't usually like bitter melon, because i don't mind when they're raw because they're crispy, and combined with the right spices and oils, you can have an interesting bitter-salty-sweet-spicy-sour dish.

while eating my wonton soup, i browsed to cnn.com on my phone and saw the news: bill russell had passed away, age 88. later i learned that nichelle nichols AKA lieutenant uhura had also died, age 89. two black icons passing away on the same day.

later in the afternoon my father cooked up some whole shrimps. he fried some last weekend on the grill but the burner wasn't hot enough so the shrimps weren't very crispy. time he fried it using wood fire from the tent stove, which had a much higher temperature. the shrimps came out much better this time, but he forgot the two most important ingredients for salt & pepper shrimp, which is the salt & pepper. we added them later but it wasn't the same. my father vowed the next time he makes fried shrimp they will be perfect.

my mother was running out of shows to watch on netflix (she only watches the shows with chinese subtitles), having exhausted all the indian movies and all the real crime documentary series. she ended up jumping onto amazon prime to see what new shows they have to offer (amazon prime exclusive shows normally all have chinese subtitles). i asked her if she'd seen reacher, which was a show i recommended a few months ago, that i thought she said she'd already seen. but apparently she was mistaken, and after watching the first episode, she was hooked.

my father cooked dinner as well: long bean stirfry with bacon, reheated mini vegetable cakes, and reheated teriyaki & pineapple chicken meatballs. i returned home afterwards.

the front and back yard looked especially parched, and plants were starting to wilt, so after i dropped off my stuff, i watered everything. apparently there's a carpenter ant colony underneath the locust because a bunch of ants stormed out when i watered the tree. i also watered the backyard, and got two mosquito bites out of it for my trouble.

my crescent knife has a tendency to stick when i try to flip it open. so i got some triflow oil that i use to lube my bike chain and added a few drops to the pivot point. it still sticks, but now opens a little bit better. hopefully the oil will work itself into the mechanism and eventually the knife will spring open better. compared that to my old kershaw knife, which flips open effortlessly. my father pointed out that the kershaw has a spring on the inside, that's why it can spring open with more force.

it's the last day of july and we did not set a new solar production record for this month. it was close though: we ended with 1288kWh for july, while the all-time record for july was 1290kWh set back in 2018 the very first year we had solar. that was with a mismatched inverter that clipped our production all that year, so the actual production that year is even higher. i suppose that's the one silver lining of all this drought: we got a lot of sunny days despite of it, and made a ton of electricity.

i stopped by the community garden to water my plot before heading to the cafe. i harvested a bunch of things, including tomatoes (regular and cherry), a taiwanese eggplant, some long beans, and a handful of ground cherries. i also did some pruning of dead tomato branches, but it was really just an excuse to flash my new knife.

as soon as i arrived at the cafe, i set up the tables and chairs on the back patio, vacuumed the place with the cordless levoit, then made 20 new tea eggs. the day started slow, and it was starting to look like we wouldn't get any customers, but then it turned busy. i didn't eat anything with the exception of a perfectly good tea egg that a customer never touched, so when nobody was looking, i ate the whole thing, damn what anybody thinks. my 2nd aunt got come meat buns from chinatown yesterday and brought them to the cafe for us to try; we warmed them up in the steamer, they were pretty good, but very doughy, more like a mantou with some pork filling.

around 3pm i went over to my sister's place to let hailey out into the backyard so she could use the bathroom. i found hailey stretched out on the couch, in an unusually rigid position. when i called her name she didn't answer. i looked for signs of breathing and didn't see anything, and her eyes were partially opened. i thought i saw her snout move, and i had to shake her paw a few times before she finally came back to life. i gave her some treats before she got up and went outside on her own (i helped open the doors) to go pee before coming back inside.

when we closed at 4pm, we were just $30 shy of tying last week's record. all we needed was a single big order to put us over the top. strangely enough, we didn't get a single online order today, nor any phone orders. a lot of chinese sausage bentos, which is surprising, because sausage is the least popular bento choice.

i got my parents' place by 4:30pm. it was so hot, i didn't bother inspecting the backyard. most everything's dead anyway, it's pretty depressing. the drought and the heat has pretty much ruined the growing season.

my parents told me their thermos stainless king 40 oz. beverage bottle had lost its insulating ability. i actually noticed it last weekend, just casually made a comment to my mother, but turns out that was actually true, and the bottle doesn't keep warm (up to 24 hours) like it once did. in the meantime they're using an old insulated dunkin' donuts thermos (with a glass interior), but we're in the market for a large size thermos. we bought ours originally on sale for $20 (2011, 2017), but these things go for $30 nowadays. there's also stanley-brand insulated bottles, they look promising as well, but seem a bit too rugged for our needs. i'm going to bring my own 40 oz. thermos king tomorrow, i'm not using it currently, i only use it during the winter where i keep a bottle of boiling water for making tea.

my father showed me something wrong with his macbook pro: the audio from the right speaker comes out overblown. it could've been software issues, but the left speaker works fine. and the audio via bluetooth earbuds also have no issues, so it seems like a hardware problem. in the meantime my father adjusted the balance so audio only comes from the working left speaker. later in the evening i went onto ebay and ordered a used replacement right speaker for the macbook pro, $8. they sell brand new replacement speaker parts on amazon for double the amount, but they come in pairs, and i only need one. plus they're off-brand, and some reviews said they don't seen as good as the original speakers, that why i went with a used part.

for dinner my mother cooked up some blue beans she'd collected from the backyard. there's a temporary moratorium on blue bean harvesting after my parents opened one of the older pods and saw there was very little beans inside. they've eaten all the beans that've grown so far and we haven't collected any seeds for next year. especially ironic since my father had decided we will be growing a lot of these beans for next year because they're grow fast and produce tasty beans - so tasty in fact we don't have any more seeds for next season.

returning home, i turned on the AC and took a shower. nothing good i television, so i continued watching for all mankind, episode 5.

i woke up at 9am to get ready to ride down to the saugus lowe's to pick up a pair of crescent-brand utility pocket knives. i finally left by 10:15am, preparing myself for the half-hour 7-mile ride through somerville-medford-malden-saugus. the ride was uneventful, just a bit of a slog. riding was okay, but whenever i stopped at the traffic lights, i could feel the hot sun slowly cooking me on the motorcycle that already has a scalding hot engine.

i got to lowe's by 10:45am. the knives were located in aisle 59, but i walked through most of the warehouse and could find 59. finally i asked someone, and it was the one place i didn't look yet, during the front of the store between the self-checkout stations and the tool rental office. even then it took me a while to find where the utility knives were, as they were multiple bays. i finally located the knives but the ones i wanted seemed to be sold out.

so how did this all start? a while back my father found a milwaukee folding utility knife (fastback model 48-22-1990). it most likely belonged to some contractor before getting lost, because the knife was all beat up. my father uses it all the time, and i thought i could find a cheap used version on ebay to replacement it. the cheapest milwaukee fastback i could find was around $16. i did some more digging and discovered it wasn't the best knife, that there were design flaws. so i decided not to get it. but leave it to ebay's algorithm to show me some suggested alternatives. one knife that i saw that looked similar to the milwaukee knife was one from crescent. never heard of them before, but looked up some youtube videos on their knives, and they seem legit. a brand new packaged crescent knife goes for about $15 on ebay, more depending on the material and length. on amazon crescent knives go for about $18-21, but THEY CAN NOT BE SHIPPED TO MA ADDRESS BECAUSE OF OUR CONCEALED WEAPONS LAWS. however, crescent knives are also available at lowe's, for about $20 for the least expensive version (3.5in stainless steel blade with composite handle). i was browsing lowe's website, and saw a listing for a crescent knife 2-pack, one black, one red, for only $20. same knives as the single pack, just half the price. it sounded too good to be true but i couldn't resist not getting it.

so that's how i ended up at lowe's. standing in the pocket/utility knives aisle. not seeing the double pack. online it said there were still 16 available, but online stock and actual in-store stock are notoriously inaccurate. i was able to ask someone about it (didn't come all this way to leave empty handed, maybe they were still boxed up somewhere), when i saw the knives hanging from a display rack. $20, as advertised. what was weird was when i looked up the knives online on my phone, it said they were $25, but because woburn was my default store. when i switched it to saugus, it showed me the $20 price.

anyway, i grabbed a package, and then briefly browsed through the rest of the store. i was trying to see if they had any countertop ovens, but they only had microwaves and larger below-cabinet ovens. their selection of name-brand cordless vacuums were pretty weak: for $300-400 you got something that still couldn't compare to the levoit vacuum we got. i looked at their pesticide selection, a little 10-oz. bottle of neem oil sells for almost $12 (just $10 at home depot). finally, i checked out the plants, hoping to see some lavender (like last time), but they had very little plant stock left in the garden department.

after paying, i returned home. i saw some interesting restaurants along the way and stopped to get a few photos. there was the lucky garden restaurant, followed by a chongqing hot pot restaurant (重慶老火鍋). the hot pot is worth a visit (if it's even remotely authentic, i'd be very impressed), they're only opened in the evenings from 5-10pm. i was tempted to stop by malden 88 supermarket, but i didn't bring my mask, and i didn't know if they'd allow me to enter (asian businesses are notoriously mask sensitive).

the return trip took over 40 minutes because of road construction on the fellsway by mystic avenue in somerville. i stopped by market basket and called my mother asking her if she needed anything, but i forgot my parents were there this morning to get some needed supplies, so they were all set. i finally got back home by 12pm.

after a shower, i made an egg-kielbasa-english muffin sandwich for lunch. later i went to the liquor store to get my mega millions ticket (jackpot is now at $1.2 billion). there were either some employees or contractors there, talking about the electric fire at star market. one of the guys who was actually there said there was so much smoke inside the store you couldn't see anything, and they threw out a lot of food because of it. i asked him when they'd be back up, he said by monday, but the electricity should be fixed by tomorrow.

in the afternoon i went to the cafe to give me father one of the crescent knives - the red one. i'd already taken them out of the package and played with them a bit. they're "flipper knives" so they have a little knob that you flip to make the knife snap out. the action is quick and it's kind of scary if you don't know how it works, because it looks like the blade just instantly pops out. i have a kershaw knife that's also a flipper (they're pretty common for pocket knives). these crescent knives, if you don't flick them with enough force, the knife doesn't fold out all the way. they have a good weight - even though the handle is plastic composite, the "body" of the knife itself is metal. the blade doesn't flex like on cheaper knives.

both my aunt and my godmother were there at the cafe. two cafe customers who used to come all the time but stopped coming both showed up today as well. my mother said they were busy but the customers didn't come all at once and were spread out through the course of the day, so it never got crazy.

besides delivering the knife, i came to the cafe to pick up the stainless steel bar sink that my sister and i bought 3 weeks ago when we went sink shopping. she was supposed to return it, but asking her to do it is like flipping a coin trying to figure out if it's going to happen or not. so i took it upon myself to return it. i strapped the box to the back of my motorcycle (a lot bigger than i expected, it is a sink after all) then went to the watertown home depot. when the girl went to ring me up, the return was denied because my sister didn't give me the right credit card she used to pay for the sink originally. all my plans of going to best buy and target to check out countertop ovens were dashed. the only thing i managed to do was buy a container of neem oil, and let the cashier know that the sink i was holding i brought in originally to return unsuccessfully and i wasn't trying to steal a sink.

i returned home by 3:15pm and didn't go out the rest of the day. i thought about visiting the garden, but it was too hot, and any watering i do would very likely evaporate. i figured i'd go there tomorrow morning. anyway, we got some rain yesterday, so hopefully that was enough natural watering.

around 4:30pm i finally got around to cleaning my fish tank. the last time i cleaned was may 31st, nearly 2 months ago. there was a lot of hair algae, i seriously should do more frequent cleaning if i want to get rid of them. i took me an hour to clean. i saved some of the dirty aquarium water and used the rest to water my plants. i forgot the best thing about aquarium water changes in the summer is that the tap water temperature is perfect for the tank, no adjustment requires (besides treating for chloramines). while cleaning the tank, i could also feel how warm the water temperature was (whatever room temperature it was).

i wasn't expecting it but we hit the 90's today. no heatwave though, i heard the temperature will be moderate this weekend, only for another actual heatwave to hit us again all of next week. rain in the forecast? nope. i had the AC on for most of the day, once it hits 77° (i've never seen it go any lower than that), i turn it off and leave the vornado air circulator fan running, until the room temperature climbs back up into the mid-80's, and which case i turn the AC back on.

i got really hungry in the evening, but it didn't feel right to eat dinner until it got dark. once 8pm came around and i closed the shades and turned on the lights, that's when i went to the kitchen to make a bowl of luxury korean ramen.