tomatoes should be considered a weed given how fast they grow. i shouldn't be too surprised though, since these are hybridized varieties, genetically modified to be stronger and more productive than normal tomatoes.

the actual basil leaves have emerged and it's very obvious which ones are the sweet basils (round and puffy leaves), and which ones are the thai basil (oval tipped leaves). the one group of plant that seems to be growing the slowest are the delphiniums. first, they take forever (21 days) to germinate; and when the seedlings do emerge, they don't seem to growing much. maybe there's something they need that i'm not providing.

it finally stopped raining this morning so i was out in the backyard inspecting the denali road bike. i noticed it before but the bike chain is aligned strangely; i think at one point the previous owner removed the rear derailleur and reattached it when the chain on the wrong side. the chain is in good shape though, no rust, and likewise all the sprockets. they're dirty though, covered in a think layer of black grease, which i think probably protected those parts from the elements. besides the gripshifters, the denali has another strange feature: the 700x28c wheels take a schrader valve instead of a presta. also because the way the wheels are designed - with very deep dish rims - they require a long valve stem, at least 48mm.

i went to rite aid to return one cough syrup and get another one - this time making sure i wasn't grabbing a generic brand. i also got some earwax remover because my sister was complaining about blockage in her ear canals. with that bit of business out of the way, i traded my north road trek for the fuji road bike and left for belmont.

as soon as i left the sky changed from sunny to suddenly grey. i had the unfortunate experience of being caught in a small hail storm, with ice pellets the size of bb's landing on the arms of my jacket and pinging off my helmet. i even managed to have one hit my eyeball, which felt like someone thwacking my eye. the hail storm didn't last long, and as soon as i arrived in belmont, it cleared up. my mother and sister were surprised to see me mildly wet when it'd been sunny all morning.

i watched wicked tuna on the national geographic channel while eating some sausage-egg-toast for lunch, following a group of bluefin tuna fisherpeople out of gloucester. i didn't realize it was a new series, i thought it was going to be a documentary. it was interesting, but i don't know if i'd watch it week after week.

in the afternoon my father and i worked on our latest project: bending a series of PVC pipes to form the framework for a cheap raised bed greenhouse for my great uncle's backyard. we learned over the weekend that the easiest went to bend plastic pipes is to fill them with hot sand and then reshape the softened pipes. we first did the math to figure out how wide and tall the bent pipes should be; my father constructed a small model with some scrap paper while i used an elliptical circumference calculator to double check his numbers.

using a piece of broken brick to trace some lines in the driveway (i couldn't find any chalk), we drew out some guidelines and set up boundaries with pieces of wood weighted down with more bricks. the pipes we were bending were 1/2" circumference pipes with a length of 10 feet. working from the ground didn't give us enough elevation to pour in the sand with a funnel so we used a tall stepladder. after pouring in some normal temperature sand into a single pipe to see how much sand we'd need, my father heated 2 pans of sand in the split level toaster oven at 450° (the highest it'd go) for 20 minutes on timer.

with the heated sand, we poured it into our first pipe. i was down below making sure the pipe didn't bend prematuring. i was worried about burning my hands but the warmest the pipe ever got was like holding a hot water bottle. as the soon as the pipe was packed with hot sand, we bent it into a parabolic shape and locked it into place in our makeshift frame. as soon as the pipe felt cool to the touch, we took it out. i was surprised it didn't keep it's shape, but instead sprung back out. obviously the hot sand wasn't hot enough. also, half of the pipe was well curved, while the other half was straighter. maybe it wasn't completely packed with sand.

after we heated 2 more pans of sand, we tried our 2nd pipe. this one was even worse because my father didn't wait long enough before taking the sand out of the toaster oven. we also realized that heating in the toaster oven was a bad idea, because the pan on the bottom wouldn't be as hot as the pan on the top.

we heated the next batch of sand in the oven, with enough sand for 2 pipes, at 500°. these were better, but none of the pipes ever held their curved shape completely. we bent one more pipe (no.5) before we had enough. these will all work because they'll fit into steel rebars; as long as they have a slight curve, they'll be okay.

i ordered a pair of XLC 700x26-32c 48mm presta valve unthreaded tubes ($3.32/each) from awwyeah.com (my favorite online bike shop). i'm a little worried that maybe i should've gotten the ones with the longer valve stems (60mm) but i'll give these a try for the time being. i decided to go with presta tubes because i couldn't find any schrader tubes with a long enough valve stem (the longest i saw was 35mm). now i'm worried about possible blowout since the schrader valve rim hole is larger than a presta valve hole. but after some searching online, i think that's mostly a bicycling urban legend.

when my sister came home she freaked out, thinking that maybe some neighborhood kids had drawn graffiti on the driveway. i'm not even sure that's possible, with everyone at home including the dog; we would've seen anyone drawing on the property.

after dinner i returned home, stopping by a rite aid to return yet another cough syrup because my mother said she was all better now. i didn't get home very late - 7:40 - but my roommate had already been back and finished eating dinner.

after an exhaustive online search, i finally bought a floor pump (bike tires). i myself already have a hand pump, but i've never had to use it before on the road, and since i normally pump my tires at home, it's time i got a dedicated floor pump. this is also in reaction to my parents losing all their bike pumps. i gave them a spare hand pump which they can't find anymore; in the garage they have an old ball pump but it broke; a portable battery pack with an air compressor also broke; and my father repaired a foot pump but he thinks he might've lent it to one of the astrophysicists who never returned it. when the weather was nice last week my father thought about biking again, but unable to find a pump to inflate his tires, he's been sidelined. so the pump i decided to get is the serfas TCPG ($32) based on the numerous positive reviews on amazon.com. i did think about going cheap, but figured if i get a quality floor pump i can use it for many years. i like that it seems sturdy (metal model) with an easy all-encompassing valve head design that fits both presta and schrader.

i watched the conclusion of march madness, a match between kentucky and kansas. the only player i recognized was anthony davis, because of his infamous unibrow. only a freshman, and already deciding to quit school and enter the NBA draft. is league ready for a rookie who looks so...unique? although he does remind me of a young dennis rodman. maybe with the millions that he'll be making he can buy himself a makeover.