my bedroom television finally died last night. it was a panasonic 20" CT20G22V circa 1997, purchased soon after i graduated college. for a few years now it's been flickering whenever i first turn it on, but the problem goes away after a while. just recently the image would be reduced to a bright horizontal line across the middle of the screen. the fix would be to bang on the tv and the image would come back. the past few days it's been getting progressively worse, until late last night, when no amount of banging could get a stable picture to show.

it's not worth fixing (something with the vertical amplifier module), since the repair cost would far exceed the price of finding a used replacement on craig's list. these old fashion tube style television are pretty much worthless, and some people are even giving them away for free. the only concern is the tv sits on top of a crowded bedroom dresser, and space is limited. i measured the diagonal distance last night and i thought it was a 17", but according to the model number it's a 20" set. another option is to upgrade and get a widescreen 1080p HDTV LCD that can also double as a computer monitor. thing is i don't even have HDTV cable service, so i don't really need an LCD TV just yet.

not only do most people not even want tube televisions, but getting rid of them cost additional money, since they contain mercury and need to be specially disposed of. the good news is cambridge will pick-up monitors and televisions 20" or less in size for free; anything bigger requires a $25 sticker. i actually have a collection of dead screens in my basement that needs to be junked. good to know i'm getting something in return for my tax dollars.

late last night (3:00) while going to the bathroom i noticed the new motorcycle battery had finished charging (the light on the battery tender junior was a steady green). i disconnected the alligator clips and began charging my old battery from my honda rebel. it's a different size but still 12 volts. when i woke up this morning, the old honda rebel battery had finished charging as well.

in order to increase my potassium intake, i've been eating a lot of foods high in K. i was on a banana kick for a while (450mg potassium per banana), but got sick of it eventually. that's when i realized a glass of orange juice had just as much potassium (480mg) and i can drink a whole carton of juice faster than i can eat half a dozen bananas. now i've been having a cup of yogurt every morning for breakfast too (390mg). i've always associated yogurt with fruit flavors, so i was surprised to find some new offerings. sometimes it doesn't pay to muck around with a winning formula. i found out the hard way when i tried dannon's coffee flavored yogurt. coffee flavor in other foods (for instance, ice cream) is okay, but just not for yogurt. yogurt is naturally bitter, so combined with some more coffee bitterness doesn't exactly make for a happy flavor.

the big job this morning was to replace my old motorcycle battery with this freshly charged new battery. out of curiosity, i tried to start up the bike with the old battery. i haven't moved the bike since the beginning of the month a week a half ago. the engine sputtered on my first attempt, then went dead. 4 more tries later the engine was making that wheezing and clicking sound of a dead battery. i've taken out the battery so many times by this point that replacing it with a new battery was pretty effortless. the new scorpion battery is just a wee bit larger than the old battery, but it still fit in the compartment. after screwing on the positive and negative leads, i tried to fire up the engine. it sputtered and when dead! horrified, i tried again, this time giving the engine a little bit of gas and making sure the choke was turned on. the engine finally fired up. had the engine failed to start with a new battery, that would mean the problem was more serious than an old battery. i fired up the engine a few more times just to make sure everything was okay before finally closing up the bike.

i set the trickle charger to power up the old battery that i just pulled out of my bike. once that's charged up, i'll have two spare motorcycle batteries to play with. they're smaller enough that i'm tempted to strap one to my bicycle, hook up a power inverter, and attach a flood light to my ride when i commute at nights. i could also run an assortment of christmas lights during the holidays.

summers used to be all about riding the motorcycle and naturing. with the weather today being so nice (70-80's), i was compelled to go out and fulfill my summertime obligations. after a bit of searching for a venue, i decided on the gardner hill forest in stow AKA stow town forest. it was just a 40 minute ride, route 2 to 62, just a couple of miles away from the memorial forest i visited this past weekend. normally i don't like naturing in places close to other spots i'd already visited (usually it's just a repeat of the same things), but since i'd never been to this particular forest before, i figured it was worth a try.

there wasn't a single car in the sandy parking lot when i finally arrived. it was a big lot too, easily able to park several dozen cars. i took a GPS reading (in case i got lost and needed to get back), put on my bug spray, wore my windbreaker, strapped on my camera, changed the lens, readied my infrared camera (nikon 4500 still useful for something!), took a drink of water, then started walking into the gardner hill forest.

i realized last weekend that august is not a great time for naturing. most wildflowers have long since stopped blooming, taking the insects with them. the final month of summer seems like a waiting period for the start of autumn.

the 300+ acres of gardner hill forest is similar to memorial forest, with mostly white pines and some oaks. i didn't see any pitch pine though, which seemed to thrive in memorial forest. there are two main trails: a looping blue trail wide enough for 2 lanes of car traffic, and a white trail that bisects the loop with smaller side trails that lead to the summit of gardner hill (340 feet elevation). apparently people ride their horses in this forest but the only evidence i saw were the occasional horse droppings. there were also signs that people bring their dogs here (and neglectfully don't pick up after their pets).

early on the blue trail walking south i came across a painted turtle hiding in its shell in the middle of the pine needle covered pathway. normally a turtle wouldn't leave the water, unless to lay eggs (seems kind of late in the season) or maybe it got stranded from a recent flooding (seems unlikely, give how dry the forest was). i got on my stomach to take some photos. i got up when i heard the noisy chatter of a group of boys riding down the trail on their mountain bikes.

continuing onwards, i decided to try the white trail, hoping to visit the summit. i saw a trail marker but decided to ignore it based on my own intuition. ended up skirting the summit, becoming slightly disoriented from all the small branching trails. i came back onto the blue trail at the southeastern corner near another pair of marsh ponds.

i double backed south so i could visit the northern tip of the assabet river. i was hoping to see some wood ducks (though out of mating plumage), but i only caught some turtles on the duckweed-covered river. there were hungry mosquitoes (something i didn't see at memorial) testing the boundaries of my fading insect repellent.

i headed back to the entrance, counterclockwise on the looping blue trail. besides the mountain bike boys, the only other person i saw was early on, a woman walking a few dogs off-leash. i was taking some photos of rattlesnake plantains and her dogs were barking at me from a distance.

as far as naturing goes, there wasn't too much to see. with the lack of recent rain, there wasn't even the familiar mushrooms you'd normally find in the forest. i did find a few new york ferns. last year i wanted to become a fern expert, but aside from the few common ones, i still have a hard time telling them apart.

back at the first set of marsh ponds i spotted a water snake. i'd seen one earlier, but it was swimming away and i only saw the sinusoidal wake of it fleeing. this one had been sunning itself, and i wouldn't have seen it except i saw it slithering. i took a few photos before it too slid away into the water. it was a small one, about 1.5 feet. it's funny, but its the reptiles i seem to see the most often. that's because they're predictable in their basking, turtles on the water and water snakes nearby.

in the water, with the aid of my polarizing lens, i picked out a few fishes: a largemouth bass (non-native, introduced from the south) accompanied by a few colorful pumpkinseeds.

getting ready to leave, a saw an older man pulling into the parking lot, accompanied by a small terrier.

returning to cambridge i decided to ride down route 2. although faster and quicker, i don't like it because its inherently dangerous speeding down the highway at 65+ mph. i prefer the slower and safer smaller highways with 45+ mph speed limits. even with the windshield, i could feel the wind trying to lift me off of the bike, as the fabric of my denim jeans fluttered like flags.

i stopped by the cafe briefly to chat with my mother and aunt before finally returning home to a hot shower. later i went next door to renee's place to help her install an ink cartridge.

when my roommate came home in the evening, i asked if she was using her television, which had been sitting on the floor ever since she got here. i asked her if i could borrow it, since my television was dead. it's only a small 14" sony (with a build-in VCR, so you can imagine how old it is) but i was ecstatic to be able to finally watch some late night king of the hill reruns in bed before going to sleep.