i woke up at 9:00 and rode down to belmont to meet the orkin man scheduled to arrived between 10-12pm. he called at 10:00 to let me know he was leaving burlington and would arrive within half an hour. he got here right after my sister left with the dog. he was a nice guy, giving me the whole "how termites work" speech which i've now heard for the 3rd time.

orkin uses the sentricon baiting system, which is what waltham services uses. i'd already decided late last night that a termidor barrier was the better solution (this article postulating how termidor's effectiveness might've killed the termite industry solidified my opinion). he said orkin also does termidor treatments, but they would need to drill inside the basement, and explained to me how drilling just around the house won't get beneath the foundation. he also told me that the reason why i got a hard sell from terminix is they expand their hiring of salespeople during spring to handle the increase in bug activities, but then let most of them go by winter when business slows back down. while orkin inspectors work on salary, terminix salespeople live off of commissions, so the more they sell the more they make.

the orkin guy did a measurement of the house then came back in with a slideshow of termite life cycle. he gave me some numbers: $1200 for a single year of sentricon, followed by $300 annually for the maintenance. i liked how i wasn't forced to sign into a 2 year agreement, but the numbers are exactly the ones quoted by waltham services, just parsed different: $1200 + $300 = $1500 for 2 years, same as waltham services. the orkin man left around noontime.

so i was in a pickle: if i didn't want to use a bait system, that rules out both waltham services and orkin. so far the only company i've talked to that does termidor was terminix, and i didn't want to do business with them if i could help it so turned off i was by that pushy salesman. that left only one more company, ultra safe pest management, which was arriving at 1:00. i kind of had a feeling they were an advocate of termidor from what i saw on their website, but i couldn't be sure until i talked to their representative.

al from ultra safe showed up half an hour early. he'd just gotten back from inspecting bats in an attic and had a little piece of bat dropping on his bald head. he was a real character, with his thick glasses and goatee. i asked him right away if he does barrier or bait. i was relieved when he said they use termidor treatments, since he's had bad results using baits. he was different from the other inspectors in that he also offered tips of how to prevent future termites. "of course once we inject the termidor, you'll never have termites again." while we were walking around the house, we flipped over a wet board and found some lives termites underneath.

back inside the house, he was curious about the other companies i've contacted. he told me that waltham services was purchased by orkin back in 2010, so they're actually the same company now, hence the heavy push to use the sentricon bait system. i made a rookie mistake when i honestly answered his question of, "so what's the number i'm trying to beat here?" i told him the terminix quote of $1100, and he asked if i'd agree to the same amount. so much for haggling. despite fumbling the price negotiation, i still liked ultra safe. for one thing they use termidor, which meant i didn't have to deal with terminix. another thing was they offered a 5 year warranty as part of the agreement, no need to sign up for any additional annual maintenance fees. that means if we see termites anywhere around the house, we call them and they come back and treat the termites for free.

by that point my father had returned home briefly hoping to partake in the inspection (not knowing that ultra safe would arrive early). al offered to knock off an additional $50 from the price if we agreed to sign today; i didn't like this sudden shift to a hard sell tactic, but in the end he said he'd give us the slight discount regardless. we still had to discuss it with my mother first.

it was already 2:30 and the only thing i had to eat the whole day was a banana i wolfed down in between inspections. i had a bowl of cereal when i got back to cambridge.

i moved out all my tomatoes. i have no choice but to transplant them since they won't fit inside the closet anymore. should they succumb to a sudden bout of low temperatures i won't be too sad since it's cheap to buy new seedlings. i wonder if i left them in the closet too long because they look spindling, like they didn't get enough light.

since i had some spare time, i packaged up frances' latest norwegian shipment in the biggest box i could find. strapped to the back of my bike with bungie cords, i slowly made by way to the post office. the clerk was new and took a long time to process the shipment. given how much stuff i was sending out, i was surprised it didn't cost more (although $96 in postage is no chump change).

back at home, i noticed a "could not deliver" card along with my mail. since the postal worker was still making her rounds, i found her a few houses down and she took me to her van to retrieve my package. it was the bike pedals and flashlight bracket i ordered from dealextreme more than a month ago; i was starting to think it got lost in the mail permanently. also arrived was my mini-torch flashlight that i ordered from ebay but shipped from shenzhen china.

the pedals are adequate but the reflectors don't come off so i can't install my spare set of straps and toeclips. the mini-torch is pretty bright but i was disappointed that it doesn't have a strobing option (i read that it did, but these chinese merchandises are notoriously inconsistent in their claims). combined with the velcro flashlight backet, i have a new bike head light. compared to my planet bike 3-beamer it's not as bright but comes close. the mini-torch recharges via USB; it glows red when plugged in. apparently it's supposed to glow green once fully charged, but after a few hours of being plugged in, it was still red.

later i did another water change after noticing the same kind of algae in my minibow as i have in the guppy tank. if i change the water daily for a week, i think i can reduce the algae problem, but i hate changing the water, so i always forget to do it.

not feeling particularly inspired and not having a chance to do any grocery shopping yet, i heated up a brick of stouffer's lasagna for a late dinner.

i continued working on my godmother's photo recovery project. she's been calling every day for the past few days asking about my progress. i tried a few programs on the PC but none of them were any good. after comparing nearly 8 different photo recovery apps, i've determined the best one is klix 1.3 for OS X. it's able to salvage photos that none of the other programs could find. unfortunately i don't own the software (i was using it in demo mode) so i ended up paying $20 to get a working serial number. later i burned all the photos onto a DVD disc.