t
o
n
y
a
n
g
'
s
 
w
e
b
l
o
g


ranch roofing called me this morning while i was about to head out on my motorcycle. i pulled over and answered the phone. i was surprised to hear from them because steve told me he called monday and yesterday (if what he says is true) and never heard back, so i figured they were just too busy to take any new customers. i was concerned that we'd only had a limited window to work but john (my contact person) told me there's plenty of time, and even if it snows, they can continue working after it melts. he did tell me that they don't do leak repairs anymore, for liability reasons, since it's impossible to guarantee a roof won't leak if you just fix it in pieces. instead, they only do total roof replacement. i scheduled a meeting for 11:00 monday morning.

i went to the cafe to pick up the wrong-sized beads (8mm) i bought yesterday and went to the porter square michael's to return them and get the the right ones (10mm).

i also went to radio shack with a laundry list of electronic components i wanted to buy. i ended up just some diodes (IN4001, $1.29) and an assortment of transistors (NPN-type: 2N2222, 2N3904, 2N4401, $2.99). i also wanted to get some shift registers but they didn't have the ones i was looking for (74HC595). i checked prices on capacitors: they carried 4700F for $5 while 2200F were $4. i'll look online to see if i can get a better price.

i decided to stop at cambridge naturals to see if they carried any yogi teas. sure enough they had all sorts of flavors, some i didn't even know existed. at $4.99 a box it's a bit pricey but i just had to try the chai rooibos tea.

i then returned home to find a box of coaxial cable ends (for my father to install new cable lines for my 2nd aunt and uncle who've been living without cable for most of this year). after using the bathroom and watching the breaking news about massachusetts' preparedness regarding the impending frankenstorm heading our way, i returned to the cafe.

my mother was getting worried because i'd been gone for so long. i tried a cup of the chai rooibos. i can't definitely taste the chai (very spicy), not so much the rooibos. despite the spiciness, the tea itself is very mellow, not bitter like some other teas. my father found the original AC adapter for the LED display sign and gave it to me before i left.

i left for fresh pond to look for post-it notes at staples. not any kind, but a particular variety that comes in a box with a suction pad underneath. my former roommate victor left it when he returned to madrid and i found it pretty useful. unfortunately i didn't see it at staples so i left empty-handed.

since i was there, i decided to check out the newbury comics nearby. a long time ago my godmother's son jack gave me a newbury comics gift card which i still never used up. when i was a teenager hanging out in harvard square, no trip would be complete without a visit to newbury comics. but once i stopped collecting comics, there was less reasons to go there, and once music became totally digital, i haven't bought a cd in almost a decade. still, newbury comics has other things, like books and dvd's and t-shirts and toys. the sign on the door caught me surprise: the fresh pond newbury comics was actually closing! inside i noticed the signs that pointed out everything was 20% off. i had the cashier check my gift card: there was still $31.62 left on it. spending spree!

browsing the aisles of newbury comics made me nostalgic, remembering those youthful days when i had disposable income. now after years of frugal living, i can only bear to spend money on useful items, even if that money is in the form of a gift card. the problem is nothing at newbury comics is really useful. i did finally find a few things worth buying: a celtics no.33 larry bird t-shirt (originally $22.99, $18.39 after 20% discount), monkey head key covers ($4.79), and fish-shaped rubber ice cube tray ($7.19). after taxes, the final came out to $31.12, which left me with exact change of 50¢.

talking with the cashier, i discovered this newbury branch will be closed for good after sunday. i asked the cashier what would happen to him and he said he'd be relocated to the burlington branch, which is a much longer commute via highway.

back at home i plugged in the original AC adapter into the LED display sign. i was surprised to see the sign working flawlessly, none of the glitches i saw before. so it was the plug after all! i guess the AC versus DC voltage of the adapter really does matter. the original adapter is this heavy brick of a plug. using my electricity monitor i could see it was still drawing 3-5 watts of power even when nothing was plugged in.

since the LED display is working now, that meant there was nothing wrong with the capacitors. glad i found the original plug, because otherwise we would've gone through with the capacitor fix and still have the sign not work.

i went into boston in the afternoon. i wanted to visit the charliecard store underneath downtown crossing to 1) replace an expired charliecard; 2) transfer all my charlie tickets (5) onto a charliecard; and 3) pick up a few more spare charliecards. when i got there i was shocked to see a line of about a dozen people waiting outside the office. this goes to show you the mismanagement of the MBTA. they're making it harder and more expensive for people to take public transportation. i used to be able to find charliecards everywhere but nowadays they're a scarce commodity. what ends up happening is people buy a paper charlie ticket, which 1) can't be refilled, and 2) costs more to ride (subway is $2.25 with a charlie ticket compared to $2.00 with a charliecard). it's basically a racket to get people to pay more for MBTA service that's already expensive (price keeps on going up every year or two, especially now that the MBTA is in debt).

i ended up waiting in line for about 20 minutes, and once i got inside the charliecard store, it was another 10 minute waiting for my number to get called. at least i was sitting down by that point, but there was a mother with a loudly crying baby that drove everyone crazy. the whole setup is very reminiscent of the the RMV, with tickets and updating number boards directing you to the proper aisle. i discovered the expired card had about $20 worth on it already. consolidating all the charlie tickets was an additional $20 that i added to the $20 card. the woman behind the desk told me that the only charliecards that were expiring were the ones with yellow serial numbers. all other cards are fine for another 10 years. before i left i asked for 2 more blank charliecards.

from downtown crossing i cut across the relatively empty financial district to get to haymarket, where i purchased $10 worth of cheap produce (kale, scallions, cilantro, beets, ginger, pineapple). i was looking for those long green korean hot peppers but i didn't see anyone selling them.

by then it was well past 4:00 and i wanted to get back home before i get caught in rush hour traffic. not that it matters for a bicycle, but more cars mean more chances of getting hit. leaving kendall square, i saw a convoy of people carrying garment district bags, folks preparing their halloween costumes for the weekend.

for dinner i made more risotto, just because i wanted to use up the italian sausages before they go bad. i didn't have any white wine so i used a cup of vodka instead for flavoring. i also forgot i didn't have any frozen broccoli so i made do with the next best thing, which was a bundle of chopped up kale. i steamed them in the simmering chicken broth while i cooked everything else in a larger pot. i sprinkled in a handful of chopped cilantro and a piece of red cayenne pepper from my garden. the final result wasn't bad, and i always feel healthier after a serving of kale. next time i'll chop up the kale into finer pieces and prepare more broth.