todd called me this morning with a price quote for the dead elm tree: $800 to cut and remove it (including the temporary dismantling of the fence), another $180 if we want the piles of old backyard wood taken away as well, and $300 to get rid of the wisteria. i told him i'd speak with my parents, but added "there's a pretty good chance they'll want you to do it." i called my parents immediately afterwards. here's the thing: my mother originally thought it'd cost at least $2000, so $800 seemed like a steal. a few years back, when our backyard neighbors had a large pine tree removed, the tree company had asked me parents if they wanted the dead elm chopped down too since they were there anyway. they were willing to take on the extra job for $500, but signals got crossed and they showed up on the wrong day so nothing was done. anyway, a few minutes later i called todd back with their answer. the elm tree will come down within the next few weeks.

temperature last night dropped down into the low 40's. i was worried about my plants out on the backyard deck, and even jumped out of bed in the middle of the night to check up on them. they seemed fine, they could use some tough love since i won't always be there to take care of them.

in the late morning i took the motorcycle to riverside motorsports in union square to get my inspection sticker. the guy told me i needed to replace my front tire at some point since there were some small cracks around the tread marks. it seems like i just had it replaced a few years ago (or maybe i'm confusing it with when i replaced the front tire on my old honda rebel). $15 later i had my sticker and returned home.

i noticed the old pair of doc martens riding boots were getting a little faded so i shined it up with some shoe polish. i probably didn't do a very good job (i did a dry shine, should've used a little bit of water). i might also want to get some new polish; the one can that i have is all dried up and cracked on the inside and i had to melt it with a match to make the wax usable.

i went ahead and decided to order the zhumell 8x42 short barrel binoculars anyway. i know my mother said she didn't want it, but she keeps on telling me about all the birds she's been seeing, so in trying to read between the lines, i've taken it upon my myself to just order a new pair. i was one click away from buying it when i reread a review and realized there was a different model from another company that looked exactly the same as the zhumell: the swift 744 reliant 8x42. now i'd actually heard of swift before, but i couldn't be sure if it was the same company. curious, i went in search of this doppelgänger. the 2 binoculars were obviously made by the same chinese manufacturer with just some very minor cosmetic differences. however, the swift had one thing the zhumell didn't: phase coating on the BAK4 roof prisms. now up until a few days ago i knew nothing about full multi-coating, or nitrogen sealing, or phase coating. but phase coating is a good thing, and makes images just a bit clearer. so much could i expect to pay for the swift versus the zhumell? nearly identical, about $5 more. one other difference - and i wasn't sure if it was just a typo - but the swift seems to be also a few ounces lighter. so based on all these newly uncovered facts, i decided to order the swift instead - after i come back from the supermarket.

i decided to make pulled pork for this week. i was going to get some lean cuts of pork from market basket but my mother called me to let me know they got a large boneless roast from costco, saving me the trouble. i got some additional ingredients (onion buns, spicy stubbs' barbecue sauce, onion, garlic).

after dropping off my groceries at home, i bicycled down to the cafe to pick up the roast. i told my parents about the swift binoculars and my decision to buy it. in fact, there was a seller on ebay selling it for only $99, $16 than what i was originally going to pay. once i got home i ordered it. however, there was something a little funky going on with my ebay account. even though i "won" the "bid" (it was just a simple buy it now purchase), my initial payment was reversed for some unknown reason (most likely they were out of stock). i didn't realize it until later in the evening, so it was too late to call the seller's 1-800 customer service number. i'll try again tomorrow, figure out what happened. worse case scenario, i pay what i was originally going to pay for it anyway ($115).

back at home, i took a long overdue tally of all the plants i have growing:

cherry tomatoes (8)
best boy tomatoes (8)
roma tomatoes (10)
butterfly weed (5)
delphinium fantasia mix (11)
calendulas (6)
zinnias (8)
cucamelons (17)
korean melons (14)
hot pepper mix (10)
kung pao peppers (6)
thai basil (8)
sweet basil (9)

i was going to visit my community garden and plant some of my seedlings but it started to get a little late and i wasn't in the mood. instead i just organized the plants on my porch, trying to formulate a strategy as to where the various plants will go. there's my community garden plot, my parents' backyard, our belmont victory garden plot, and my grand uncle's backyard - so 4 different locations. if i have anything left over i might also give some to my aunt and uncle in arlington.

my bungs and airlocks arrived today! bungs are just a fancy way of calling stoppers with holes. unfortunately, the bungs don't fit my 5 gallon plastic water bottle! they're too small for the opening. i definitely want to visit the beer brewing store on mass ave tomorrow and see if i can get some proper bungs. size #10 if you know what i'm talking about! wink wink! i still need to make the actual distillation still and find some material to ferment.

i'm excited to try some out a new soap i got at market basket, old spice "swagger" ($1.89/ 2 bars). it doesn't smell like old spice, more like a typical sports soap. i was thinking it'd smell more manly, like a cologne scent.

for lunch and dinner i had a sandwich fish sandwich. served on toasted whole wheat bread with a layer of lettuce. mixed in with a can of tuna was several dollops of mayonnaise, some chopped celery, some capers, ground pepper, and hot pepper powder. it was pretty messy to eat and i ended up having tuna "sauce" dripping all over my hands and mouth. i got some packham pears, which i don't think i've had before. light green, crispy, with bumps, it actually taste pretty good, more fragrant than your typical pear.