a trip to the cafe to get some lunch and borrow one of my parents' car revealed a powdery mildew infection on my transplanted rosemary plant that i gave to my father to take care of before i decided to convert my closet into a grow house. powdery mildew is common to indoor rosemary, and the main reasons why it happens are high humidity and poor air circulation. i drove back home and did some research online. one gardener wrote that rosemary actually like it cold during the winter (but not freezing), and that a temperature of 45 degrees is optimal. i suggested to my father that he bring the rosemary plant back to belmont where it can grow in the cold but sunny climate of their sun room. i'm also going to see if i can salvage any cuttings for transplanting. sometimes if the mildew is too severe, the plant can't be saved and will have to be thrown away entirely.

my kill-a-watt electricity meter arrived today. i bought it on a whim since i've always been curious as to which appliances in my house use the most electricity. the device is fairly simple to use, tone end plugs into the wall, he other end you plug in your appliance. unfortunately it has a clunky design and covers up the whole wall outlet (even worse, on a powerstrip, it takes up 3 outlets). the LCD screen also isn't lit so sometimes it requires a flashlight to read the numbers, particularly when you have it plugged in some awkward location. there are multiple buttons to display things like the voltage and frequency, but those are kind of useless since these values are usually constant. the most important button is the one that displays the watts currently used.

what i discovered about the electricity usage in my home was pretty shocking. when something is turned off, does it continue to draw electricity? that's always bothered me. for instance, the microwave uses a single wattage of power when not in use, but that's only because it has an LED clock (which i check every morning when i come out of my bedroom, just to figure out how late it is). what i didn't realize was the comcast cable box - the one the comcast repair guys talked me into getting because they couldn't fix my bad analog reception - uses 20 watts of power regardless if it's on or off. 20 watts is more juice than the amount of electricity i use to power a living room lamp (13 watts). solution (as suggested by my father): i've got the tv and cable box on a powerstrip that i turn off now when i'm not watching tv in the living room. it may sound sort of extreme, but that trickle of electricity loss can add up over the weeks and months.

appliance(s) watts
ikea antifoni floor/reading lamp 5 (off), 55 (on)
1.8Ghz mac G4 w/attached 17" CRT monitor 3 (off), 150 (on), 80 (monitor off), 5 (sleep)
microwave 1 (off), 1000+ (on)
comcast cable box 20 (off), 20 (on)
27" philips CRT television 75
grow closet power strip (including 2x2x40 watts combined fluorescent shop lights, wireless router, cablemodem) 120
single shop light (bottom shelf, 2x40 watts fluorescent bulbs) 45
whisper 10 gallon aquarium power filter 3
aquarium strip light fitted with 15 watts fluorescent bulb 16
50 watt aquarium heater 48 (cycles off and on)
macbook pro 26 (charging in sleep mode), 84 (on)
living room lamp fitted with 13 watts CFL bulb 13
14" samsung flatscreen CRT television 1 (off), 40 (on)

after discovering that surprising news, i went through my house testing everything that was plugged into the wall. like, how much electricity does my grow closet use? figuring i had 4x40 watts fluorescent lights, i'd say at least 160 watts. but turns out the actual amount was far less (120 watts), including power to router and cablemodem. another question: since i spend so much time in my bedroom, how much electricity does my desktop computer use? around 150 watts, about double the electricity if i had two 27" television running together. i wonder how much power i could save if i went with an LCD monitor instead? my laptop (although a different kind of computer) with its 15" LCD only uses about 84 watts of power. i plan on taking my kill-a-watt meter to my parents' place tomorrow and testing out all their machines.

came nightfall i headed out to malden for clarissa's 2nd birthday party. being that she's a toddler, clarissa and i don't exactly hang out, but i'm sort of friends with her parents, so that's why i was invited. i made a stop at the pet surplus outlet to see if they sold any incandescent strip lights (so i can retrofit them with CFL bulbs) but they didn't. while calling dan to buzz me in, i bumped into mike and his lady, arriving at the same time. the last time i was over was back in october, when we watched an ALDS game.

dan had invited me to the party last night after i instant messaged him. i knew nothing about the party and real reason why i wanted to get in touch with him was to ask him if any of the guppies i gave him were still alive after he went off to brazil for a month and fed his fish with an automatic feeder. looking at his aquarium, his fish seemed fine. i noticed some female guppies were pregnant but no signs of fries.

since clarissa already had birthday parties with her extended families in brazil and pennsylvania, this was her 3rd party in so many weeks. i figured it'd be a room full of kids, but actually there were more adults than children; besides clarissa, there were two other youngsters. it's strange watching children play; maybe it's because i've long since forgotten what it's like to be a kid. but they all seem to get along, like the fact that they're all children is enough to get over any sort of social anxiety adults might normally have. i mean, i wonder if a little kid ever thinks to herself, "okay, this is really awkward. he's playing with my toys. hello? boundaries!"

dan was busy being host while cymara slaved away in the kitchen bringing out waves of food. at times it felt like it was dan's party, and he just basically wanted to gather up a bunch of people to play on the wii. half the room was left open as the wii arena and the other half was where all the toys were. i got a peek at clarissa's room where there were even more toys. not since the mansion from silver spoons have a seen a house so stocked with children's amusement!

after the party i gave elias and amanda a ride back home to cambridgeport. after spending several long minutes parallel-parking the car on my street, i was back at home. i turned on the television to catch the final moments of the primary election coverage in south carolina. at dan and cymara's place i already knew barack obama had won. with all the votes now in, the numbers showed a decisive victory, by far the largest margin between first and second place finishers since the start of the caucus/primary season. despite the victory though, hillary clinton still has more total delegates. that confused me too, until i finally got an explanation on the difference between a regular state delegate and a state superdelegate. not wanting to bore you with details, but hillary has 100 more superdelegates pledged to vote for her than barack. it's sort of unfair because a fifth of the delegates are these superdelegates that don't have to follow the popular vote. so even if more people vote for obama than hillary, the superdelegates could still potentially sway the count and give hillary - a washington insider - a victory for the democratic nomination. let's hope that never happens. and why do hispanics support hillary so much over obama?