my parents along with my sister paid a visit to tangtang's place last night. why my sister went i'm not sure; she's very insistent on taking tangtang out for reasons i don't quite understand. if anything, my sister would be a bad influence on a teenage girl. tangtang doesn't even remember my sister; i think the last time my sister was in taiwan was 1997, and tangtang must've been just born. anyway, those "luxury" fenway apartments? actually windowless dorm rooms with 3-4 international students squeezed in per room. the rooms are so small a tall person could touch opposite sides of the wall probably. the dorm-style bathrooms are also filthy. these are well-off taiwanese kids with louis vuitton luggage forced to live in slum housing. welcome to boston! at least it's a good location, right across from the berklee music school (are these in fact berklee dorms?), within walking distance to a lot of city attractions. if you're staying in the dorm all the time, you're doing something wrong (although boston isn't like new york, you really can't stay out all night).

it wasn't supposed to rain today but the sky was overcast for much of the day. i haven't been on the motorcycle for almost a week and figured i was due for a cruising. i went to belmont, where only the dog was home. i let her out in the backyard but after a few minutes, she bolted right back to the rear door. for a dog that enjoys running in the woods and on the beach, she seems to hate the backyard.

i pulled some overdue radish plants to give more sunlight to the korean melons, which are looking awfully leggy. the snapdragons are putting on another display after i pruned off the dead flowers a few weeks ago. i see somebody's been harvesting the tomatoes, including the big ripe ones i saw over the weekend. with a new location and more than a week of less intense sunshine, the lavenders have bounced back, looking more succulent with a few flowers. the cucumbers are pretty much done. whatever disease rotted off too many leaves to grow good fruits; the few cucumbers i saw were all stunted with a J-hook shape. maybe the cucumbers at the victory garden will do better. another oriental lily has bloomed, white with various shades of pink on the inside. it's fragrant, but the flower is so low to the ground the only way to smell it is on all fours. the bottle gourds are producing fruits, but many are being reabsorbed. i only saw one viable gourd after a quick check.

from one belmont garden i went to another belmont garden, this time to the victory plot out by rock meadow. i parked my motorcycle rear-in-first, so it'd be easier to get out. a woman was sitting in the car next to me, purposely not looking in my direction, which only made me more suspicious.

the last time i was on a motorcycle also happens to be the last time i was at the victory garden, which was 6 days ago. all the rain we had over the past week meant there actually wasn't a pressing need for me to come and water the plants. i was there basically to check up on the garden, chart the progress, make sure animals weren't eating the plants.

the first thing i noticed was how big the plants were. then i saw the new pile of corn husk by the tree. some animal is definitely using our plot as its personal dining room. fortunately it doesn't eat any of our plants, but steal corn from the neighbors. later i saw corn husk up on the tree, so it's definitely a climbing critter. squirrel? the level of corn destruction seems way too complex for a squirrel. besides, squirrels sleep at nights; this is a nocturnal animal. i want to say raccoon, but they're bigger animals and would make more of a mess of the raised beds, which haven't been touched. the mystery continues.

the other thing i noticed was one of the dead tree branch had snapped off, falling on top of the fence at the southwest corner. by some miracle it didn't smash any plants and the only damage was the plastic netting which once adjusted was back to normal again.

the cucumbers/melons/squashes are growing fast: they need to because once august is over, the weather of september and beyond could turn cold at any moment which would mean the end of the growing season for these hot-weather plants. the key is night time temperature can't be below 60°F; once that happens, it's game over. i personally think that won't happen until after the start of the vernal equinox, so i'm hoping they can still grow for much of september. we could also erect some makeshift greenhouses to prolong the growing season. the cucumbers/melons/squashes could also be growing well because they're getting a lot of sunshine and we're using black landscape fabric to block the weeds, trap the moisture, and warm the soil.

the main attraction of the victory plot are the korean melons. so far so good, but a lot could go wrong, least of all the weather. i noticed some cucumber beetles, which also feed on the melons. the beetles themselves don't do that much damage directly, but they can carry bacterial wilt, which will kill the plants once infected (that's what happened to the cucumbers in my parents' backyard). i noticed that some of the melon plants on the very sunny southern edge of the garden have already produced immature flowers. the female flowers even have little miniature versions of eventual korean melons, should they survive that long.

the one cocozelle squash plant seems to be in a race with the one zucchini plant as to which one can grow the fastest and biggest. the cocozelle does have a better spot, one that isn't directly behind and underneath the shadow of a tree. there are already some immature flowers on the stem (all males so far).

we didn't get any good cucumbers in my parents' backyard; maybe things will be different here at the victory garden. unlike the other plants, the cucumbers aren't thinking about fruiting just yet; they're concentrating all their energy on producing leaves.

the zucchini was the first to germinate but also it just naturally grows faster than all the other plants. there are some immature flowers, including both male and female. if a single female flower can be successfully pollinated, we could have our first victory garden zucchini in less than a week. of course the flowers themselves still need a few days to mature (but never underestimate how fast zucchinis can grow).

i dug up a cart load of newly-arrived wood mulch and added it to the garden path. it's not the best mulch; instead of wood chips, it's more like shredded twigs and branches. it's still useful as a weed block in non-growing areas. i also dug up a bucket of compost and added it to the central raised bed, on the end where nothing is growing. i met a young topless gardener named jeremy who was busy shoveling compost into a wheelbarrow (half of the compost is already gone). i think he's in plot 93. he and his fiancée got the plot this year, but didn't have time to work on it until now, which meant it's completely overgrown with weeds. they actually live in cambridge (davis square), but got the plot through his future sister-in-law, who got it after being on the wait list for 3 years but no longer needed it because she moved to a house with a big backyard.

i watered the garden anyway, not knowing when it might rain again, although the latest forecast says late tomorrow afternoon.

i checked out some other plots before i left:

most interesting flowers: nigellas! also, a lot of garden cucurbits show signs of powdery mildew.

i rode a beeline on concord avenue, from belmont hill all the way to cambridge and back home.

my new hard drive docking station arrived today. i used it to backup another 300gb worth of data (movie and music files). initially i was going to use USB, but wanted to speed things up, so i went with a combination of firewire for one hard drive and eSATA for the other one. this is the better way: approximately 260gb worth of data transferred in just 2 hours. when i did a USB-USB transfer last week, 130gb took 4-5 hours. the startech docking station works, which is pretty much all i wanted. design-wise, it isn't as good as the thermaltake, but i've had so much bad luck with that brand, anything was better. the startech dock doesn't have an eject button (which is done manually but yanking out the drive) and the on/off switch (not a button) is located in the back (isn't as convenient as a front button). i do like the status light though, glows blue on standby, flutters to magenta when reading.

while my laptop was preoccupied with the backup, i watched the US olympic men basketball game against tunisia. tunisia actually played very well in the beginning, even managed to take the lead briefly at one point. the US team still seems a bit rusty, but once they warm up, the offense just explodes.

i made risotto for dinner. every time i make it i think about my old roommate marco. the recipe i use is partially his recipe, like squeezing out the italian sausage into meatballs and adding some frozen broccoli. he never used wine to simmer the rice though, which i think is a key step to add more flavor. i tried a few new things this time, like adding some anchovy slices. i wanted to make it more savory but it's already plenty savoring with the addition of melted parmesan cheese and rice cooked in chicken broth. the anchovies just added a faint salty fishy taste, which a normal person wouldn't even notice but since i'm super-sensitive to seafood, i tasted it right away. it wasn't bad, but it wasn't necessary. i also used a medley of frozen vegetables (including cauliflower and carrots) instead of just broccoli. i don't mind the cauliflower, but i only like eating raw carrots; steamed carrots taste off to me. next time, stick to just broccoli. i also chopped up some fresh sweet basil leaves, but the flavor was lost once i combined the vegetables and the cheese.

by evening time it began to rain, which was unexpected. not a little drizzle either but a steady shower. LJ came home around 9:30, partially soaked from not bringing an umbrella. she headed straight into the kitchen and began her daily cook. when i went to the kitchen to get something from the fridge, she muttered something to me. something about my fan. it took me a while to understand what she was saying, until she led me to her room and showed me the damage. apparently she broke the table fan i let her borrow. i wasn't as angry as i should've been only because i dropped the fan once before, and crack the casing in the back. the fan still works, but the rear cover is a little loose. i figured maybe she thought she caused that damage. but what she was showing me was something entirely new. somehow she managed to smash the fan to smithereens, to the point where fan guts fell out. i'm not quite sure how she managed to do this, and i didn't bother asking anyway since the damage was already done. i tried turning on the fan but it didn't work. she managed to get it to operate after some fiddly around, but it made these horrible noises, and then there was a snapping sound.

naturally, instead of telling me about the broken fan as soon as it happened, she tried to cover it up. she found a craig's list person selling a fan (similar? different? who knows) in kendall square and went to go pick it up after work. the seller wouldn't be home until 8:00, so LJ went shopping at the galleria mall. when it finally became time to pick up the fan, she realized her cellphone battery was dead so she couldn't contact the seller. as the appointed time slipped away, she managed to borrow a cellphone and call, but by then the seller was long gone, maybe figured she wasn't interested and sold it to somebody else, who knows.

it's actually sort of funny: first she destroys my microwave, then she kills her laptop, and now she wrecks my fan. i'm kind of afraid yet curious to see what else she can ruin in the less than 7 days she's here. if i was a betting man, i'd say she breaks my door lock before she leaves. it's true that after 2 months she still hasn't quite figured out how to lock and open the door without fumbling at the key and turning it hard enough to twist it in half. i've noticed the lock is already a little bit wonky, but could just be wishful thinking. i'm going to let her take care of finding me a replacement fan, but if it's not the same model, she'll need to buy me a new replacement fan ($30, holmes blizzard oscillating table fan).

surprisingly, i was in a good mood considering what just happened, that is until i went to go take out the trash. i'd already cleaned out the bathroom earlier, but i had a feeling LJ might've thrown away some more things (since she's oblivious to the concept of trash day) so i checked just to be sure. so of course there was a used tampon, and enough bloody toilet paper to look like a crime scene. suffering this indignity in silence, i carefully carried her menstruation and threw it away along with the other trash.