walgreens notified me a few days ago that my prescriptions were ready so this morning i found got a chance to walk down there and pick them up. temperature was warm - in the 50's - but a little rainy and wet. i just wore my fleece jacket. midway on my walk my sister called me asking if i needed i ride. i told her i'd be done in 15 minutes. the pharmacy only had 2 of my prescriptions, i had to get a refill authorization from my doctor on the thiazide. almost home, i called my sister and told her she could leave now.
arriving at my parents' place, my aunt finally contacted them with an update regarding what happened last night. so went to the emergency room where they bandaged up the cut on her face and even gave her a few stitches. because hailey isn't fully vaccinated for rabies, my aunt has to get rabies shots as a precaution. my father left to deliver some thanksgiving flan my aunt wasn't able to have last night as she raced to the hospital.
i had turkey rollups for lunch. i also tried the ube mochi, my first time tasting ube. honestly, i couldn't really distinguish the flavor, non-refrigerated mochi is probably not the best medium for trying out ube. i'll need to eat more ube to figure out its taste.
as it was raining intermittently outside (and feeling very cold because of the moisture and dropping temperature), i didn't go out into the backyard today, saving that yardwork for later in the weekend. i did go downstairs to the grow room to spray the jade plant with insecticidal soap (i saw another large mealybug! how can they keep on coming back when i spray like crazy?) and the orchids with neem oil. i also sprayed the lemon verbana, noticed some aphids yesterday. upstairs i set the pepper plant in the bathtub and sprayed it with insecticidal soap as well; not so much aphids on the leaves but rather on the flowers and the peppers themselves.
the new electronic mousetrap i set up in the kitchen cabinet yesterday was flashing green this morning. when my mother checked the trap though, it was empty but all the peanut butter bait was gone. how did the mouse survive the trap? maybe the batteries are bad. so i set the trap again. the mousetrap in the basement however did managed to catch a mouse, after it's been there for over a month. it seemed fresh, like maybe it got caught just today. hopefully this doesn't mean a resurgence of mice activity after we haven't seen any for months.
i was trying to buy a new used macbook pro for my father, to replace the mid-2012 macbook pro he inherited from me when i got a new used late 2013 macbook pro retina 15" back in 2018. that mid-2012 MBP still works, but will crash intermittently, and will shut down if you close the lid. it's been repaired so many times, i was just going to leave it as a backup machine, not worth spending more money on to try and fix. but it's gotten to the point where it's difficult to use, and a replacement was in order.
i had the specs of the new used machine in mind: 2013-2015 15" retina macbook pro with 16GB RAM and 500GB hard drive. i first checked craig's list, there seems to be a lot of scam MBP sellers, with similar ads that feature non-corresponding photos. the one legit post i saw was a belmont seller offering a 2012 15" retina MBP for $400. unfortunately it was only 8GB/250GB, for that price i could do better. i tried ebay, there were some good deals on 2015 15" retina MBP for around $200-450. the problem with ebay is that its national (maybe even international), and with some auction posts, the prices seem low initially, but once it gets to the final seconds, a dozen bidders will jump in and suddenly the price will skyrocket. we tried bidding on a MBP for $300 but the final price was $430. another auction had a 2015 MBP with a 1TB hard drive that was originally $300 but ended at $730. so it seemed like ebay was not the best route.
i'd checked out backmarket.com in previous occasions, never bought anything from them though. a few months back i found some good MBP deals, but when i looked again, i didn't see any. pricing is kind of weird, a lot of sellers sell refurbished macs in various conditions, and the advertised price is always the starting price, which is a computer in fair condition, but if you want anything that's a little better, it'll cost you. i then tried mercari.com. i've used them before when i got an asus tablet to test with my DJI drone (didn't work). they're kind of like craig's list, but with a national reach. they don't do auctions, it's basically just individual sellers hawking their unwanted goods online. i was just browsing randomly, and came across an oregon seller with a mid-2014 15" retina MBP 16/500GB for $400 and free shipping. that's a great price so after conferring with my father, we decided to buy it. after taxes, it came out to $430.
in the news today was reports about the new omicron variant of the coronavirus, and how many countries were restricting travel to and from a handful of african nations starting with south africa. the variant should technically be named the xi variant, but bowing to chinese political pressure, the WHO has opted to skip a greek letter.
for dinner my mother cooked up the book tripe with some sour mustard greens. originally this was a dish for yesterday's thanksgiving, but we already had honeycomb tripe, so my mother ended up not making it until today. we had turkey rollups again. not much turkey meat left, after my aunt and 2nd aunt had a go carving up the bird to take leftovers home. what's left will be turned into stock for use as noodle broth.
my father gave me a ride home after 8pm. it had started to snow but the ground still too warm for any of it to stick besides on grassy surfaces at the most. we stopped by my sister's place so i could drop off some sour mustard greens and a ramekin of flan. my street was a ghost town, most cars still missing during the thanksgiving long holiday (including my noisy upstairs neighbors). the heat kicked in when i got back (eco mode senses someone was finally home), stayed in the toasty bathroom for as long as possible.
even though today was black friday, there wasn't much online shopping. my mother wanted to visit OSJL, but when she found out the yarn sale she saw in the circular was actually over, she didn't want to go. besides the new old macbook pro, we ordered a keurig coffee maker ($40) for my 2nd aunt and some wool socks for my mother.
the only thing i had to do today - thanksgiving eve - was to get some beers. i could just go to the liquor store around the corner, but i wanted more selection, so i decided to go to the somerville sav-mor off of mcgrath's highway near lechmere station. heading out, i saw the crowd of people outside petsi's pies. i biked towards east cambridge, finally arriving at my destination.
i thought there'd be more people but the parking lot was pretty much empty. i went to the beer aisle to pick two different beers. having no clue which beers are good or bad, i basically go by design, name recognition, and whatever else might attract me. i went with a 6-pak of samuel adams winter lager and a 6-pak of weihenstephaner hefe weissbier bavarian style. i also got a 6-pak of woodchuck pearsecco for myself.
i made it back home by 12:20pm. the line outside of petsi's was just as long. i watched as my upstairs neighbors packed up their car and drove off. i'll enjoy having the house to myself the next few days. a lot of neighbors had taken off as well, given the amount of empty parking spots outside. for lunch i had a maruchan instant cup of noodles.
afterwards i checked out the motion-sensing spotlight in my alleyway. it was doing this thing where it'd turn on for only 1 second regardless if it was day or night. i learned this behaviour is indicative of being in test mode. sure enough, when i checked the sensor, it was in test mode. not sure how that happened, but i also noticed a few days ago that someone had replaced the bulb at one point with a regular incandescent. maybe my upstairs neighbors fiddled with the settings when i wasn't here. this is good news though because it means i don't have to replace the spotlight. i will however change out the bulbs to PAR38 led spotlights.
around 1:30pm i left for my parents' place to help clean the house for thanksgiving. there was a good amount of traffic and it took me 20 minutes to eventually get there at almost 2pm. i started by disconnecting the on-demand pump and bringing it inside so the freezing night time temperatures don't damage the pump. speaking of freezing, there was a layer of ice one inch thick in our water buckets. the mustard and daikon seedlings are still in various degrees of survival, with the daikons underneath the plastic cover doing the best. i tossed out the extra raspberry canes, a layer of ice forming in the bucket where they'd been soaking. i replaced the faucet cover in front of the house with a new one that had thicker foam; no reason to cheap out and use a repaired version that still had plenty of gaps to allow freezing temperature to get inside.
in the grow room, i filled up a 5 gallon bucket with rain water and brought it into the basement. the water reeds was getting a little dry so i topped off the pot.
i started cleaning the house but i wasn't making much of a dent. i used the wrong strategy, trying to put everything back where it should be, but there are so many things that don't go anywhere, and it'd be a lot quicker if i had a box that i could throw everything into. a bunch of fan's my the small bedroom i brought them down into the basement. a bucket of tools in the sunroom i took them into the basement as well. i finished by vacuuming the house, then doing the dishes. i left by 4pm, close to sunset. there were fewer cars on my return trip, i made it back home in 14 minutes.
today is an important day solar-wise, as we achieved the highest production ever for november at 594.64 kWh, with still 6 more days left in the month. this is to make up for a summer where we had the lowest production ever. at the rate we're going, if we get a few sunny days next week, we may break october's record production as well.
i finished watching foundation. the last episode came out last friday, but i'm only now getting around to watching the final two episodes. i find myself hate-watching it. of the three storylines, only the empire one is interesting, the other two are painful to watch. apple+ renewed it for another season but i don't think i'll be watching it anymore. i've already unsubscribed from the subreddit.
for dinner i heated up some french bread pizza. i ate while watching the 2 premiere episodes of hawkeye. it's actually pretty good, i look forward to a new episode next week. i finally got around to updating my pixel 3XL phone to android 12, the last supported system update for my phone. i'm surprised the transition went so smoothly, no glitches whatsoever, and the phone feels snappier under 12.
i found out i lost my amazon prime visa card (i just had it replaced back in august
). it didn't help that it's completely black, so it's very easy to lose track of. i either lost it at the speedway gas station yesterday
when i was fueling up my motorcycle (the last time i used it) or it's at my parents' house or it's somewhere on the road (having fallen out of my pocket). i'd get it replaced, but it's peak online buying season and i can't be sidelined without my credit card. so i'm going to hold off on replacing it for the time being, maybe wait until after christmas. i still have my bank debit card, which is what i used this morning when i went to market basket to get a few grocery items. it was crazy but not yet apocalyptic crazy. i wouldn't want to be there wednesday night before closing though.
i bought two bags of PEI mussels ($5 each), after looking up online that they can stay fresh in the fridge for a few days after purchase (covered with wet paper towels). they don't look very large or pretty, but it'd be a break from our usual thanksgiving fares. the last time we had thanksgiving mussels was back in 2017.
from my living room window earlier i could see the line from petsi's pie stretching down beacon street. when i went by the shop, there was about 20-30 customers waiting outside. they even set up a tent outside to process all the orders.
i got back home by 10:45am and started making the thanksgiving flan. in the original recipe, the portions for 8 flan are: 5 eggs + 3 cups milk + 1/2 cup sugar + 1.5 tsp vanilla + 1/4 tsp of salt. using those numbers i scaled up accordingly, this time for 14 flans. why 14? because i only had a roasting pan that could hold 8 ramekins and a pyrex lasagna dish that held just 6.
(14x 6 oz. ramekins)
0.9 cup sugar
0.5 tsp salt
5.5 cups whole milk
3 tbsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups sugar (caramelized)
|preheat oven to 350°F. mix eggs with sugar and salt. mix in remaining liquid ingredients. set aside, let bubbles dissipate. boil a kettle of water and pour into lasagna dishes lined with ramekins. caramelize remaining sugar (melt in small batches, 3/4 cups each), coating ramekin bottoms. pour in flan mixture, using fine mesh strainer to catch any unmixed egg bits. bake for 120 minutes, switching trays after 1 hours to brown evenly.|
i have bigger pans and dishes but i couldn't find any of them. after each thanksgiving all my dishes and pans get scattered until next november, when i need to consolidate everything, and often times i can't find them anymore. hopefully i do a better job this year of collecting everything afterwards so i don't have to hunt again next year.
the flan were in the oven by 12:15pm. the original recipe called for just 40 minutes of baking, but i've found with my oven and the amount of flan i make that it takes 2 full hours. i waited after the first hour to swap the pans, but when i opened up the oven, none of the flan had brown yet, so i decided to leave it as is, bake for another hour.
so talk about a black friday miracle: my amazon visa card mysteriously reappeared! i searched everywhere this morning, and then suddenly it just showed up on my coffee table. either i'm losing my mind or there are evil spirits living in this house that like to hide credit cards. i'm tempted to punch a hole in the card and wear it on a chain so i'll never lose it again.
i had an hour to kill, so i decided to bike down to my sister's godmother's apartment in central square to pick up her mail. i also figured on the way back i could get some mcdonald's takeout since i hadn't had lunch yet. after the kirkland intersection, a somerville police officer in a SUV chased after me and chewed me out for crossing during the pedestrian cross signal even though nobody was crossing. the temperature was a little blustery, but in my new used puffy jacket i was quite insulated and warm. the jacket was actually too warm, and when i stopped i quickly unbuttoned and unzipped.
after collecting the mail, i went upstairs to check on the apartment. using the mcdonald's app, i ordered a spicy deluxe chicken sandwich ($5.98) which came with a free medium fries and medium drink after i used a coupon. i went back downstairs and biked to mcdonald's to collect my order. i didn't really want the drink because it was hard to carry back, but if i ordered the fries separately it would've cost more. i put the drink (sweet ice tea) in my cup holder and biked home gingerly, afraid the lid from the soft drink would pop up at the next road bump.
as soon as i got back home, i heard the timer going off, perfect timing.
before i could even start eating my lunch, i first took out the flan and placed them on wooden cutting boards to cool off.
as for the mcdonald's spicy deluxe chicken sandwich, it was okay. much spicier than i expected, which is a surprise, a kind of vinegary spiciness, like if you mixed frank's redhot with mayonnaise. i noticed more and more fast food restaurants offer spicy sandwiches, and legit spicy, not just peppery spicy. i always figured the typical american palate has a very low spicy tolerance, so maybe it means people's tastes are changing.
when my father returned home, he set up the stainless steel tent stove that arrived this morning. it came in a wooden crate already assembled. we'll fire it up either on thanksgiving or definitely this weekend, with the stacks of old wooden in the backyard.
i didn't eat until after 9pm, heated up a brick of stouffer's lasagna in the oven. i ate while watching the live-action cowboy bepop on netflix. afterwards i took out the trash. my upstairs neighbors were lazy and instead of pulling out the other recycle bin, they just cramped all their boxes into one bin, overfilling it. i had to take out some of the boxes. one of them was for a coway airmega air purifier.
my father stopped by and delivered some baking dish for my thanksgiving flan. my parents were at the cafe preparing some thanksgiving foods, including brining the defrosted turkey. in return, i loaded up the car with some thanksgiving drinks and also gave my father my folding plant stand to take back to our basement grow room. before leaving, my father told me that binbin was coming back to boston december 14th. not sure about the details (what type of visa? how long will they be back? everyone returning?) but it's weird to think we might see them again in 3 weeks time after they've been gone for over 2 years.
in the late morning i packed up my things and rode to the porter square star market, to pick up some keurig vanilla caramel creme green mountain coffee for my mother. she walked down to the mt.auburn star market yesterday looking for this flavor but they didn't carry it. after that i went to the nearby speedway to get some gasoline for the motorcycle. i then went to belmont.
there were some dramatic clouds in the sky so as soon as i arrived at my parents' place, i unpacked my drone and went into the backyard to take a survey. i flew over the fresh pond golf course and spotted some really nice red leafed trees against the green course grass. i flew for a while, and even ignored the low battery warning when i still had 7 minutes left of flight. i was on my way home when it gave me a critically low battery warning and started landing procedures. i was pretty anxious because i couldn't cancel the forced landing, but the drone was high enough that i had some time to navigate it back home while it slowly came down from the sky. i managed to land it safely. i never had that happen before, next time don't ignore the low battery warning, come home immediately.
i did a few backyard chores. some critter had dug up a deep hole in the center of the backyard lawn. i don't think it's a squirrel because they dig to bury, and this hole looked like the start of a burrow. i want to say rabbit, but we haven't seen rabbits in the backyard for months. regardless, too late to grow any new grass, i just patched up the hole with some dirt, worry about it come spring. i cleaned some of the windows: ever since my parents replaced them with vinyl windows, they never bothered to remove the sticker labels from the window panes. it looks pretty terrible but finally after all these years, someone (me) managed to go around and clean up the windows with a razor blade to scrape off the stickers. i added another weight to the squirrel buster bird feeder, to prevent bluejays from feeding. we never had blue jays before, but they've somehow learned that there's food in the feeder, so a bunch of them have been camped out in the backyard, taking turns grabbing a seed and eating it elsewhere. besides bluejays, today i also saw a lot of mourning doves, a few juncos, and a chickadee who waited until the bluejays left to come and get some seeds from the feeder. there was also a downy woodpecker feeding from the suet feeder.
i thought about fertilizing the lawn with a late fall season fertilizer, but the leaves haven't fallen off completely yet, i'll wait until next weekend. we'll also open up another bag of chicken manure to fertilize parts of the western perennial bed, the garlic chive garden, and RB0.
my parents came home later in the afternoon. my mother made me some rice porridge and eggy bread omelettes with pork floss.
later my father and i set up the folding plant stand in the basement grow room. a bunch of our rose cuttings have rotted; you know they've gone bad when the stem turns black. we moved all of them into the sunroom, so they can winterize in the cold temperature. hopefully this will also kill the mold that's been growing in the damp soil.
i set up the 2 eufy 2k indoor cams that arrived on saturday: one facing out into the street, the other the backyard. i already have a wyze camera pointing into the backyard, so the eufy isn't necessary, though it has better resolution. i'll check out the feed tomorrow to compare the difference.
around sunset a bit after 4pm i went out again to fly the drone from the backyard when i noticed some colors in the sky. it was difficult to get the proper exposure, either a colorful sunset but dark terrains, or an overexposed sky with a proper exposed landscape. i should use the bracketing feature next time. because it was getting dark, the drone warned me about flying at night. it's actually easier to spot the drone at night because it has lights, versus in the daytime when it can disappear in the sky. at one point i thought there was another drone in the sky before i realized it was just an airplane flying at cruising altitude (10k ft).
we had dinner early, around 5:30pm. i returned to cambridge by 7pm. it was in the mid-50's this morning but by evening the temperature had dropped into the lower 40's. i only wore a fleece jacket, which wasn't enough this morning, so it wasn't going to keep my warm now that the temperature had dropped even lower. fortunately there was an old gap-brand jacket left behind by one of the astrophysicists (LSH?) that was my size, and i wore that home instead. it's actually a pretty good jacket, better than the hoodie-windbreaker combo i normally wear during the winter. i have a puffy columbia interchange winter jacket that i almost never wear unless it's super cold, so it's been a while since i've had a normal winter jacket and not something i cobbled together through layering. i think this might be my new winter jacket.
by the time i made it to belmont this morning, my parents had already gone to restaurant depot for a supply run. no clear plastic cups and no plastic bento boxes. the restaurant depot has faced supply chain issues for months now, it's easier just to buy online; even though they might be more expensive, at least they have things in stock. my mother made some wonton soup for lunch and i finished the leftover fried porkchops and calamari.
i bought some new hard outdoor faucet covers ($3.51) the last time i went to home depot, but we still have the ones from last year. the only problem is the old covers are missing the foam seal. i just happened to have some leftover insulating foam weatherstrips that we managed to cut up and apply as a new seal. they're not as thick as the original foam, but they should still work. that means i can return the covers i bought.
while my mother left for a walk to the mt.auburn star market, my father and i were out in the backyard doing yardwork. temperature was in the 50's, warm enough for me to strip down to just a t-shirt after a few minutes of outdoor activity. i mowed the front yard first, raking out the leaves from underneath the shrubs and pulverizing them with the mower. my father took over mowing duty in the backyard while i trimmed back all the dead hosta leaves and ornamental grasses. we also drained the two front yard rain barrels by the living room window and emptied another barrel by the sunroom.
we moved the picnic table to underneath the maple tree; the table is in pretty bad shape, several wood pieces have rotted, maybe it'd be better to get a new table instead of replacing the individual wood planks. we bought this picnic table more than 10 years ago, june 2010. if we get a new table, we can weatherseal it better than before.
the last thing we did was to relocated the southeastern hydrangea. when i first transplanted the hydrangea a few years ago, i never thought it'd grow so large. our plan was to move it back 2ft, so we can grow some perennials in front while the hydrangea can grow all it wants in the back. it took a while to get it out of the ground: for the most part it had shallow fine roots, but there were also a few thicker taproots that either needed to be dug out completely or simply severed. once that was done, we needed to dig a new hole. the job was made more difficult by the discovery of bamboo rhizomes, which i had to dig up first. after planting the hydrangea in its new home, i mulched it with some shredded leaves.
my father had his own project, repairing the cable for his baofeng recharging station. one of the plug prong was loose and when he cracked open the plug yesterday, we discovered wires were soldered to the prongs and one of the wires had become loose. when my father tried to solder it back in place it wouldn't work. so today he ended up finding a spare plug and soldering that into the "brick" housing. i brought my headlamp so he could have some work light.
when my mother left on her walk, the colts-bills game was 14-0 in indianapolis' favor. i was too busy with yard work to watch the game, but when she came home and turned on the tv, she was shocked to find the score 41-7. was this the same buffalo team who was supposed to win the AFC east? bills ended up losing, which catapulted the patriots into first place in the division. in other football-related good news, the 8-2 titans lost today as well to the 1-8 texans (patriots face the titans next sunday). pretty much the teams that expected to win all lost today: packers (8-2), steelers (5-3), cowboys (7-2).
after dinner i motorcycled home. i was expecting it to be cold but it was just 48 degrees, downright balmy, especially since i wore my thermal underwear again.
the temperature this morning was in the low 40's. i wore my thermal underwear to keep warm, as i rode the motorcycle to belmont, my saddlebags heavy with chinatown/haymarket/star market haul. i had some wonton noodles for lunch.
my father bought a stainless steel tent stove this morning. he saw it first for sale from walmart, the same one he tried to get directly from the chinese manufacturer 2 years ago but once the company realized how much it'd cost to ship it to the US, they cancelled the order. there are other stainless steel tent stoves, but this model is special in that its double-walled. my father was going to buy it from walmart, but found the same stove from the distributor's website, a company called vevor that sells all sort of equipment and tools, at a cheaper price, so he ended up ordering it from them instead. it's due to arrive next week. not even sure how we'll use it since we've never done any sort of winter camping and don't have a shed where we could use this stove.
there was some gardening chores to do, but i decided to put them off until tomorrow, when the daytime temperature is supposed to be in the 50's. the only thing we did was to stack 3 rain barrels in the southeastern corner of the yard; readjust the solar panel for the east-facing security light; and my father climbed the roof to take down the DBJ-1 antenna so he can fix the copper tail that we trimmed too much of. i refilled the birdfeeder (didn't see any birds today) and collected the rest of the "cherokee sunset" rudbeckia seeds.
my mother decided instead of cooking she wanted to order chinese takeout from joyful garden in the watertown mall. that way when my sister came to pick up hailey in the evening, she could also eat with us. after deciding what we wanted to order, my mother made the call at 5pm, my father and i went to go pick up the order 30 minutes later.
because we were paying cash, my mother was able to speak to the owner and get a discount on the order ($120). the order wasn't ready yet so i wait about 10 minutes before a large bag came out of the kitchen. they also seemed to be doing pretty good dining service, about a dozen tables.
this was our 3rd time order from joyful garden this year (may, june). third time around the food was okay (better than mulan at least), but maybe because we basically got the same thing as last time, so a lot of the novelty had worn off.
after dinner i returned home. i didn't check the temperature before i left, but if i had to guess, it was low 40's to upper 30's. i didn't feel as cold as last night because i had on my thermal underwear, but my torso felt a bit chilly and so did my hands. unlike on a bicycle where i'd warm up after a few minutes of pedaling, with a motorcycle there's no way to warm up. maybe i should dig out my old lighter fluid hand warmer. they also sell electronic ones.
i replaced my front porch light this morning with a new 60W equivalent lepro dusk to dawn led light bulb. of course i'd need to wait until it got dark to see it working. this light bulb is slightly different than my old lohas bulb: besides being a little longer, it also had 2 sensor windows that the other bulb didn't have. makes me wonder how the old bulb was able to sense the light change (the sensor is probably inside the dome).
temperature this morning was already 65 degrees, and would hit the 70's by the afternoon. i went out to enjoy the last warm day of the 2021. i've always wanted to fly above the mt.auburn cemetery and today i got my chance. there's no drone flying within the cemetery itself, but nothing says i can't launch from outside and fly over the property. i really wanted to do it during peak foliage colors, so now it's a bit too late, but still better than nothing.
i parked at 165 grove street, a large parking lot perfect for a drone launch, with the cemetery right across the street. i've been here before, with my parents when we went on the watertown garden tour back in september. now in november, both the community garden and the parking lot were locked in preparation for the BB&N demolition. there was enough space for me to stash my motorcycle as i quickly pulled out my drone and set it into the sky. i always have a feeling i'm doing something illegal whenever i do a drone launch other than my parents' backyard.
i had pretty good signal, and i was familiar with the area, so landmarks helped me with my bearing, unlike the few times i've flown in unfamiliar surroundings, where i had no idea where i was. no matter where i am, i can always see boston on the horizon from the drone. i might've also spotted my grand uncle's plot in the cambridge cemetery nearby. the one place i wanted to visit in mt.auburn cemetery was washington tower. for the longest time, this was the tallest structure in the area, and i'd always come here if i wanted a bird's eye view of the surroundings. so imagine flying above the tower, seeing views i'd never be able to see without the drone. there were actually some people up on the tower, i wonder if they saw my drone flying by.
coming back i was a little lost, and issued a return-to-home command to bring the drone back. once it got close i switched to manual landing, didn't want the drone to accidentally land on the road, or behind the gated parking lot. once it landed i quickly folded up the drone nad packed it away. i finished by noontime, making my way to my parents' place.
here in belmont i was doing some yard maintenance. empty and clean some rain barrels and store them for the winter. i started with the red catch barrel at the corner of my parents' bedroom. there was still a bit of water inside, so i removed it from the cinder block and tipped it upside down to dump out the water. i noticed there was a foul smell, and when the water poured out, there were 3 dead mice inside. they must've crawled up the overflow pipe once the barrel was mostly drained, and then fell to the bottom where they couldn't escape and finally drowned. i cleaned the inside of the barrel the best i could, i didn't want to crawl in to give it a thorough scrubbing as it still smelled of decomposition.
i also cleaned the red catch barrel by the dining room window, as well as one of the black storage barrels. the storage barrels i couldn't really clean inside, all i could do was empty the tank completely. i moved the three barrels to the southeastern corner of the yard, where they'll be stacked on their sides during the winter.
next i cleaned out the 3 catch barrels at the northwestern corner of the house. these were small enough that i could crawl inside and give them a thorough cleaning with some water and a brush. afterwards i tipped them upside down and put them back in their original locations. now that they're empty, they're much easier to steal. these are newer converted rain barrels that use brass bulk fittings so they never leak.
as for the remaining barrels, the 3 black and 1 red barrel by the sunroom are still collecting rain water. those we will disconnect before the daytime temperature dips below freezing. currently i still use harvested rain to water the plants in our grow room. i did put alway the long (50ft) garden hose, taking advantage of the warm weather. when it gets cold, the hose get rigid and become hard to coil up. that meant i disconnected the on-demand pump, though it's still usable if we connect a shorter hose to the pump.
the two barrels in front of the living room window i didn't have time to clean. all i did was to put away the watering hose and disconnect the old 12v pump, putting them in the garage. we'll clean them this weekend, and put away some more hoses, as the temperature will still be relatively warm, in the 50's.
i went to the basement to check on the grow room. before i even got there, i could smell the osmanthus. the higher humidity really brings out the fragrance. i noticed the water in my lotus container has turned clear. the potted lantana had lost a lot of its original leaves, but now was starting to make new ones, tiny green buds emerging all over its branches.
something animal (squirrel?) had dug into the raised beds. in RB1 there was a very deep hole, and at first i thought i was a burrow, so i checked to make sure there wasn't anything living inside. it's so big i wonder if a rabbit dug the hole, but i haven't seen rabbits in the backyard in months (i do however see them in the front yard). i patched up the hole. some critter (mostly likely a squirrel this time) had dug in the RB0 garlic bed. i don't think it was trying to eat any of the garlics, more like finding places to hide food for the winter, but it was mess, despite the metal mesh. i patched those holes as well.
the mustard and daikon seedlings that looked like they were doing so well last weekend now all looked wilted. was it the cold temperature? or too much nitrogen-rich chicken manure? the few lucky daikon plants underneath tha tented row cover seem to be doing better, so it makes me think the wilt is temperature related.
by 2:30pm i was finally done. i headed to the cafe. my parents were preparing a catered delivery to brandeis university. one challenge was cooking enough rice. they didn't have enough rice cookers so they opted to use the instant pot pressure cooker. when i got there, my mother had just added 14 cups of rice to the 8qt inner pot. all the instructions i read online said the 8qt can only cook 6 cups of rice maximum. but my parents insisted it'd be safe. it took my sister to finally convince them they had too much rice (she uses the instant pot more than all of us). they scooped out 2 cups, but it still seemed way too much rice. when filled with water, it almost reached the maximum line. my sister showed me what they were thinking regarding a new store sign. i left with half a eggplant parmigiana sandwich and a whole ham and cheese sub (my godmother had bought them).
when i got home by 3:30pm i finally ate for the first time today, finished the eggplant parmigiana sandwich after heating it up for a minute in the microwave. what that sandwich needed with some meatballs.
i had dinner around 8:30pm, to coincide with the thursday night football game between the patriots and falcons. the general consensus was new england would win, now that they're ascending, while atlanta was descending. besides, the falcons under matt ryan had a history of terrible luck when facing the patriots, and tonight would be no exception. to their credit though, the atlanta defense was legit, preventing mac jones and company from showcasing their offensive onslaught they dealt to the browns on sunday. patriots defense continued to be dominant. new england managed to eke out a few points, a touchdown and mostly field goal kicks, while completely shutting out atlanta. during the final few minutes of the game, when all seemed lost for the falcons, 3 different quarterbacks played for atlanta, and each one managed to get intercepted, with one of them being a pick-six from van noy to put the final score at 25-0. now the 7-4 patriots get to rest this sunday, and don't play until the 28th, when they host the 8-2 tennessee titans.
binbin contacted me tonight, said they got their visa and was coming back to boston next month. she was asking about the pandemic situation, since she saw on the news that US infection rates were increasing again, especially now the holidays is approaching. she wondered if they should delay their return.
i went down to the community garden this morning to do my winter cleanup. most other gardeners have already tidied up their plots, i was one of the remaining few who still haven't gotten to it. there was no other gardeners there, but 1st grade children were playing noisily in the field behind the community garden, cambridge park service were raking the leaves, and a man came into the garden briefly to eat lunch before finally leaving.
i cut down all the hyacinth bean vines, pulled up all the dead tomatoes and basils, and chopped the chives down to the ground. i also stacked my tomato cages and laid them flat on the ground.
a lot of plants have died in my plot, but a few were still alive. some old striped mallows were still flowering on tall thin stalks, and two of the grow bags contained healthy mature mallow plants which i don't know if they'll survive into next year but i guess we'll find out. my white hydrangea is still alive: even though i planted it in a really bad spot behind a grow bag and surrounded by tall plants, it managed to produce a few branches, which produce next year's flower buds. as far as i know, i don't think anyone else in the garden has a hydrangea, and certainly not a white one. there were also stock plants in my plot. it made me remember that stock plants prefer the cold, so this late fall weather is ideal. can they survive the winter? i thought they were just annuals, but i planted them in the spring and they survived weakly through the summer (producing no flowers in my garden), and now seems like their time to shine. i also collected all the bokchoi seeds, maybe i can grow some bokchoi in the early spring.
i came home and mixed up some matcha latte for lunch. like clockwork, soon afterwards i went to go use the bathroom.
the weather today was sunny for the first half, then got a little cloudy in the afternoon. it looked cold outside, but the temperature was rising steadily, in anticipation of the near 70's degrees day tomorrow, our very last day of warmth before we plunge into the cold darkness of another new england winter.
i was signed up for a zoom lecture titled, "early childhood development in rural china" given by scott rozelle, a stanford professor. the topic is sort of esoteric, and i was originally going to skip it and go do something outdoors, but when the weather turned a bit dark, i decided to stay and hear the lecture. it turned out to be a wise decision, as this was a great talk, rozelle was very animated and presented the info in a digestable manner. it opened my mind to one of the problems of china and i felt smarter afterwards.
following my to-do list, i got around to cleaning my living room windows. i like to apply a coat of rain-x to prevent rain from beading on the windows. but in order to do that, i first had to clean the windows, followed by 2 coats of rain-x spray, and finally wiped off with a cloth. i bought a bottle of glass plus for the very first time, i really like it. ammonia free and scented (spring waterfall), it dries streak-free.
at 3pm i rode my bike down to the cambridge library as they were having a compost bin giveaway event. it was kind of a mistake, because there's an online form where i can order free bins from the city, super easy, i did it when i replaced my broken blue recycle bin. it was also a mistake because 3pm is when the cambridge high school kids get out of school, so that whole area was mobbed with kids. when i got to the front of the library were the compost people had set up a stack of bins, i found out they were only giving out small bins, none of the medium-sized ones. i was about to leave and order one online, but one of the workers there told my info and said they'd get in touch with me regarding a new bin. it's not even for me, it's for my parents: the city gave them one of the large compost bins but it's simply too large, they rather have a medium bin. i also found out there are two sizes of medium bins, but they didn't have one available there for me to see. i left with a small bin and some compost bags.
for dinner i heated up a stouffer's chicken pot pie in the microwave. in hindsight i should've warmed it up in the oven, because the microwave dried out the pie so it was mostly crust with some dried filling on the inside. i couldn't even tell if it was good or not. luckily i have another pie in the freezer. i've made my own chicken pot pie in the past (2015, 2017), it's not that hard, and probably healthier and cheaper. i'll try that for next time. it'll give me an excuse to buy frozen mixed vegetables.
my new lepro dusk to dawn led light bulbs arrived today. these are 9W (60W equivalent) 806 lumens in soft white, while my previous dusk to dawn bulb was the lohas 6W (40W equivalent) 500 lumens. i tested the bulb with an indoor lamp, it turned on when it got dark, turned off when it was bright. i was going to install it on my front porch light but it needs screws to remove the housing and i rather do it during the daytime. my front light has always been dim, but now that my upstairs neighbors are back, they always have their front door light on, and that one is super bright, more than enough to shine on both our front doors. i'll install it anyway, but maybe leave it off for the time being.
one thing i don't like about my new fridge is the light. it has a 5000K blue hue which i might be able to live with if it weren't so dim. the led bulb is a 3.6W light. i've been meaning to replace it ever since i got the fridge. for some reason though i thought i could only replace it with something equivalent, but they don't make 3.6W led bulbs in a color other than blue. could i possibly replace it with a bulb with a slightly higher wattage? but i couldn't find any info to say if that was possible. the manual said 40W maximum, which was the first time i've heard of it. but when i looked inside the fridge, i saw the light housing also said 40W maximum, so i should be all set. i ended up getting a sunlite A15 refrigerator light, 5.5W (40W equivalent) 450 lumens in warm white for $2.83, the same one my parents got for their fridge, due to arrive friday.
while trying to figure out how to open the light fixture housing for the fridge, i ended up head butting the edge of the freezer door, leaving a reddish welt on my forehead. after a lengthy search, i finally found a video that showed the exact same whirlpool light fixture (though a different model fridge). to remove the clear housing, press on both sides then slide towards the back. i wish they told me that in the manual, there's zero mention of how to remove the housing.