i left the house before LJ woke up this morning. i took the motorcycle because it needed some gas. straddling the seat, i could feel some pain in my legs (inner thighs, calves) where my bicycle had struck me yesterday. i count myself lucky for not having broken anything. the hess on mass ave was busy, but i managed to squeeze into the last available spot next to a refueling tanker.

underneath the sun it felt hot even though the temperature today was in the 60's. i could feel more forearms baking when i stopped at the lights. when i arrived in belmont, i found my mother knitting in the sun room while my father was cleaning up. i went outside and watered the garden from the rain barrels. it's not as fast as using the faucet hose, but it's completely free.

i had some hot dogs for lunch.

while my mother and sister went to the fresh pond plaza to return a few things, my father and i went to the watertown home depot to buy a replacement barbecue grill, in anticipation of the big barbecue event they're holding next weekend. i'd done research earlier and we already knew the one we wanted: the char-broil classic 463211512, based on a consumer report recommendation as a best buy for $200.

we found the floor model of the grill we wanted (model 463211511 though, but exactly the same) and asked a hipster employee for help. he took us outside to the garden department where there were about a dozen boxed char-broil classic. assembly was free and there was one already assembled nearby so we decided to take that one, saved us the trouble of having to piece it together ourselves (which probably would've taken an additional hour). it was kind of weird: while other customers were pushing carts, we were wheeling a barbecue grill.

once we got the grill outside we realized we had a problem: the assembled barbecue was simply too tall to fit inside the honda element, which already has pretty ample head room for cargo. the only way we could do it is if removed the lid. so we pushed the grill back inside the store and asked if they had a screwdriver and a wrench. after several minutes of waiting, 2 guys showed up with a wrench and screwdriver they'd just picked up from the tool aisle and removed the lid for us.

the partially disassembled grill just barely managed to squeeze through the rear door, but once inside the vehicle it had plenty of space. my father was all ready to return home before i reminded him we still needed to get a few more things.

we went back inside and picked up a ridgid variable speed random orbit sander (model 2601, $70). i'd seen the bosch RO sander at lowe's last week and i really liked it (not to mention a lot of positive reviews online) except it had a really small vacuum port, which would require an additional adapter for use with a shop vac. the ridgid 2600 got some decent reviews as well and both my father and i already played with it in the store and liked how it felt. we also got a ridgid 3-layer replacement filter ($24) for our ridgid 6 gallon shop vac. the 5-layer filter had HEPA material but it wasn't rated for lead paint removal so the additional layers was mostly for pollen. the 3-layer was good enough, definitely way better than using the dust catcher on the sander or not using a vacuum attachment at all.

finally we returned to the house. with 520 square inches of cooking area (not counting the warming rack), it was more than twice as roomy compared to our old kenmore master flame grill. when my father attached a propane tank and fired up the new grill, the difference was night and day. the grill was actually hot! and no open flames licking up from below! setting up the grill made my father hungry so he went inside looking for chinese sausages. he couldn't find any and just cooked some flat bread in a pan on the side burner.

as for the old barbecue, my father removed the grills (maybe we'll find some use for them). when he went to remove the lava rocks, the heating element basically crumbled in his hands. replacing our old barbecue grill was long overdue! i don't even remember when we got this master flame. it definitely predated my blog, so there's no easily searchable record. we may have actually found this grill on the curb, which replaced an even older grill. it has a side burner but i don't ever remember seeing it in action. the most impressive part about this old grill is the heavy duty aluminum (?) cover; they don't make it this anymore. another cool thing is the dual warming racks, something we didn't see in any of the grills at the store. we never covered up this grill either, just let it sit outside exposed to the elements (sun, rain, snow). it's probably a miracle it's lasted this long.

we tried the ridgid random orbit sander. turning it on at first was a little scary. there's a slight delay before it starts vibrating, kind of reminded me of an electric shaver. it came with a pair of 80-grit sanding disc and we used one to test sand some paint off the house. at the lowest setting (1) it didn't do anything, so we cranked it up to 5 (out of 6) which managed to feather the paint to a smooth finish. the dust bag managed to trap most of the dust; emptying the bag kicked up more dust than the actual sanding. 80-grit might be too much work for paint removal though, so we're going to buy some 60-grit discs and give them a try. later my father brought out his ryobi belt sander. besides being much heavier, it only sanded in one direction so we had to make sure we were going with the grains. and even though it has a dust collecting bag, it's pretty much a joke because there was a pile of paint dust on the ground afterwards. fortunately we had a newly-filtered shop vac to clean it up, but a RO sander is definitely the way to go. a face mask for some extra protection, maybe some gloves, and definitely ear plugs - that shop vac is loud!

my mother came home with some turkish delights, this time a different brand (koska's findfikli lokum). these were better than the ones she got before, less sweet with more chewiness.

my sister made pasta for dinner, which was on the bland side despite having bits of bacon.

it was actually cold by the time i was getting ready to return to cambridge. fortunately i anticipated the change in weather and brought a long-sleeved pullover. back at my place, the only time i spoke to my roommate was to let her know i already boiled some water (in the thermos) when i heard her using the electric kettle.

i spent a good part of the rest of the evening doing research on barbecue smoking. i've never smoked anything before (not naturally anyway; i have used liquid smoke in my beef jerky recipe though) and this new grill presents the perfect opportunity. i'll try to find some wood chips tomorrow and think of some foods we could try smoking.