since i was already up, my other piece of morning business was to get a prior authorization approval for my high blood pressure medication. i've avoided it for a while because it's a hassle, but every time i switch to a new health insurance i have to do this. it involves a lot of phone tag and can take a few weeks. i left a message for the prescription refill department but i don't think that's the right place to call. i'm hoping somebody will call me back so i can talk to a real person and explain the situation.
i left the house with a bag full of frozen meat slabs, intent on visiting the cafe afterwards so my father can cut them into strips with the meat slicing machine. the rain finally arrived early this morning, but for the time being it looked like it'd stopped, although it was still overcast. also it was cold, with temperature in the 60's. a few more tweaks on the temperature/humidity scale and i'd probably be able to see my breath, it felt that cold.
i left 5 minutes before 10:30 because that's how long google map said it'd take me to get to the vineyard church in west cambridge. a block out i suddenly realized those were for driving instructions and i was biking it so i'd probably be late. fortunately grace called me right at that moment and said she was just leaving brookline and would be another 20 minutes before she got there.
so instead of heading to the church, i went to the cafe first to drop off the meat so i wouldn't have to carry it with me. something about ferrying frozen beef makes me worried that it might spoil somehow. only my mother was at the cafe, knitting some black hand warmers behind the counter. while i was leaving i a car honking behind me. it was my father, who just arrived at the cafe. i turned back to look but took off since i didn't want to be late a second time.
i got to the church right when a minivan was pulling up to the curb. an asian woman stepped out with a child, probably dropping off at the adjacent daycare center. "are you tony?" she asked. names are weird. somehow i was expecting to see another person, not an asian woman (so probably lost her asian surname through marriage). she showed me the baskets. i made sure all the attachment screws were there and paid her the $20. i returned to the cafe with my loot.
my father brought out the meat slicer and began shaving jerky-sized strips of frozen beef. the cut i got had a lot of marbling, which is usually a good thing when it comes to meat, but not in the case of jerky-making, when i prefer leaner cuts. all the pieces had a uniform thickness, something i'd never be able to achieve through handcutting. when it was all over, i had a 6 lbs+ bag full of shaved beef. having the meat precut with a machine saves me from having to do it myself, but it's only a portion of the total amount of work it takes to make jerky. i still have to dry all the pieces tomorrow then lay them out onto the dehydrator.
back at home i began preparing the marinade. i had to separate out the meat into 2 portions because i didn't have a big enough bowl to mix all of it together. grinding enough ground peppers and the sichuan peppercorns can take some time. in hindsight i wonder if i could've done it in the food processor? the ground pepper i could make using the pepper grinder, but the sichuan peppercorns aren't the right shape and don't work well in the grinder. i've used a meat tenderizer to pulverize the sichuan peppercorns, but that usually results in peppercorns flying everywhere. today i used an empty root beer bottle as a rolling pin to ground the peppercorns.
i won't put up the recipe this time because it's essentially the same as before. i added 2 tablespoons of rice wine like before, but found out what i thought was rice wine is actually rice vinegar (i don't have any rice wine). thankfully i put in such a small amount nobody will be able to taste it.
i mixed the jerky in 2 separate bowls before mixing the two together into one giant bowl (actually a plastic punch bowl that came with the cuisinart food processor i found a while back). i covered up the bowl with plastic wrap then put it in the fridge to marinate until tomorrow morning. throughout the day i'd take out the marinating jerky every few hours and mix everything together to make sure there weren't any raw pieces.
for lunch i ate a leftover whopper from last night. i removed the patty and first heated it in the toaster oven.
i brought in the ross road bike - which had been sitting out in the rain - so i could attach the rear folding baskets. the road bike already has a rear rack which i've used to its full capacity with the aid of a bungie netting. but if i can just carry a little bit more stuff, the road bike will be that much more useful. adding the baskets will of course add some extra weight, but i'm hopefully functionality will trump have a lighter (and perhaps faster) bike.
the baskets look pretty new, not even a spot of rust. the only way to tell they were used is from the mounting brackets, which have a bit of wear. they're not as big as the wald baskets i have on my trek bike, but those baskets aren't collapsible (and look a bit ugly, even though they look pretty enough for me). these folding baskets are big enough to fit a large bag of groceries in each. i soon realized that the brackets wouldn't work with my particular type of rear rack (the brackets were for racks with circular wire construction; the swiss-made pletscher racks have a rectangular cross-section). nevertheless, i managed to temporarily mount one basket using just twist ties.
the twist ties weren't sturdy enough for riding, but at least i could get a sense of the positioning. i ended up having to push back the basket by an inch so i could get better heel clearance. one thing i don't like about the wald foldables is the holes are too big. i'd much prefer baskets with a smaller mesh, so small things can't easily fall out. i've seen other collapsible baskets with smaller holes. it may not make that much difference in practice, i'll find out when i start using them.
i went out later to the dollar store to look for some plastic cable ties. i bought a pack of 40 ($1.15) that came in a few colors (black, white, green, red, yellow).
i came home and mounted the 2 baskets using cable ties. each side had 3 cable ties on the top with a twist tie securing the basket body to the leg of the rack (i'll probably convert it to a cable tie at some point). later i snipped off the end of the cable ties and rotated them so the knot was hidden. because the sides of the rack would now be occupied by the folding baskets, i didn't have a place for my rear light mount anymore (which used to attach to the rack leg). fortunately i had a spare light bracket that i attached to the rear of the rack after i removed the reflector.
cable ties aren't as secure as metal brackets. i'm sure they'll support whatever i put in the baskets; i'm more concerned about theft prevention. it doesn't seem very hard for someone to just rip off the baskets from their plastic attachments. maybe if i put a more cable ties it might discourage the casual thief. if someone's really determined, even with metal brackets that can just unscrew the bolts. not sure if these baskets get stolen a lot. some people think they're kind of ugly, don't know if they're high demand items.
i was expecting some packages today, neither of which arrived. i forgot about them and fell asleep on the sofa. close to 7:00 i heard something falling through my mail slot. when i saw the small packaging envelope i knew exactly what it was: my replacement shutter button switch has arrived!
suddenly i was wide awake as i relocated to my temporary repair workshop (AKA the bedroom). i figured it'd be quick and easy to take apart the camera again since i've done it before, but the whole process from beginning to end still took over an hour. it wasn't difficult to fix; i was just being careful. the shutter button on my dSLR had completely stopped working since saturday morning. once i got to the shutter button switch mechanism, i pried open the metal bracket and removed the broken pieces. i pried open the new switch and put the new wafer into the old switch, then closed the switch with the new bracket. i then put the camera back together again. this time there was no scare: once i loaded the battery, the camera turned on just fine. i pressed the shutter button halfway: it focused without taking a photo. pressing the button all the way and it took a picture. ladies and gentlemen, i present a newly fixed canon 350D!
i was relieved that it worked. i was afraid that the contacts on the old switch had been damaged (the chance of that was low, since the shutter button on the camera was still semi-working up until this weekend). had that been the case, there would've been some messy soldering action. the fix is actually pretty easy; anyone who can work a tiny screwdriver can do it. i know cameras have a shutter life expectancy, and it's something that's always heating debated on the camera talk boards. it's never been something i've worried about, or even believed in. i don't know how many photos i've taken with this camera over the years, but every one or two months my counter goes over the 9999 mark and starts from zero again. the shutter has a life expectancy, but what about the shutter button? i wonder how many people send their camera into the shop to get the button fixed when they can just do the repair themselves?
the new shutter button switch feels crisper. i guess the old switch has been slowly failing for a while, and i've just gotten used to have a soft shutter button. now when i press the button down halfway, i'm still used to it just taking the photo instead of just focusing, which is what a camera supposed to do.
for dinner i heated up some lasagna.
later in the evening i cut some screens for the dehydrator expansion. i'm a little worried that the stacks of air filters might be too much, and that the layers on the very top won't receive as much wind as the ones below. i may have to rotate the layers during the whole dehydrator process tomorrow.
i suddenly remembered i had another package that was supposed to arrive today, this one from amazon.com. i went online to check the progress and was surprised to see it'd already been delivered. i looked out onto my backyard porch and sure enough, there was a box waiting for me. a very wet box, sitting outside in the rain all day. inside was a belkin electricity meter (which fortunately didn't get wet) and a double pair of avenir toeclips/straps.
so around midnight i installed the toeclips/straps to the bike. it was a little bit difficult because it didn't come with instructions (a common complaint on its amazon reviews). the only resource i could find online were product images for other toeclips/straps to use as comparison, and a youtube video of a girl who installed them onto her own bike, not knowing if she did it the right away. when i finally got them on they seem to work pretty well (i tested them by balancing on the bike in the hallway). i can't wait to try them out tomorrow!