i slept less than 3 hours, only to wake up at 7:00 to get ready to bike down to belmont to oversee the dead elm tree removal. midway on huron avenue todd called me to say he was running late (unfinished clean-up on another job) and wouldn't get to belmont until 9-10. around 10 he called back again, said his wood chipper broke down so they couldn't do anymore pruning today.

while my father left for work, i stayed behind and did a bunch of gardening stuff: planted the tomatoes; 2 kung-pao peppers; all the calendulas and zinnias; 3 onion bulbs; lemon balm; 6 delphiniums; mysterious rhizome i found in the community garden; pruned the quince bush (to allow more light on the nearby peonies); weeded some dandelions; and watered the plants.

i finished by around 11:30, tired, sweaty, and hungry. i returned home to cambridge. i bumped into paul, who was packing up the car to get ready to leave for martha's vineyard for the weekend. that means i'll be able to sleep (unfortunately i have to wake up early for all days of the weekend).

after a shower, i made myself a bagel-egg-prosciutto sandwich. temperature today reached the upper 70's; i changed into some shorts and biked to market basket for some groceries (stocked up on stubb's spicy barbecue sauce, got some more onion rolls).

around 3:30 the swift reliant 744 8x42 binoculars finally arrived on my doorstep. i still hadn't resolve the double billing issue (apparently their sales office closes at 2pm on fridays), and i was actually afraid 2 pairs would arrive, so i was happy to see just one box.

the swift reliant is a very nice pair of binoculars for just $99. it has a substantial weight to it but at the same time isn't heavy. the body is rubberized and feels good in the hands. since i normally use porro prism binoculars, i was surprised by how close together i could bring the two barrels on these roof prism binoculars. the manufacturer product photos for the swift reliant are terrible: the few i've seen all show a missing tripod mounting cap (one photo even had the binoculars reversed). apparently they never show the cap because the rubber lenscaps are actually tethered to the tripod mount. this is great because i'd actually been researching prices for a set of tethered lenscaps, but i didn't realize they came included!

the center focus dial has good movement, but it takes a few revolutions to go from one end of the focus point to the other. the right eye focus adjuster is a little tight though. even with glasses, these binoculars work best with the twisting eyecups fulling extended outwards; using them in the shortened mode causes the eyeballs to see a lot of circles of each barrels. the color of the glass coating is different: on my orion it has a blue-violet color, on the swift it's more blue-greenish.

the reliant has phased coated prisms but i couldn't really tell. both my binoculars are 8x42, but the view through the swift seems bigger (could just be a field of view thing, but the orion has the wider FOV, so in principle the ultraview should seem bigger). when i first used the reliant i felt some eye-strain, but that was before i properly adjusted the right eye eyepiece and then the center focus adjuster. once i got it tweaked perfectly, the binoculars just sort of disappeared and i felt like i was seeing normal (just magnified 8x). the swift also does good close focusing, as near as 6ft (the orion is just 12ft).

i haven't checked out the binocular straps so i don't know how good or bad they are. it also came with a lens cleaning cloth and a small carrying pouch.

having never used the nikon monarch before (which seems to be the gold standard for birding binoculars), i feel like the swift reliant (and its ilks) is like the poor man's monarch (the monarch itself - which sells for $200-300 - is in turn the poor man's $1000 binoculars).

i only got to play with the binoculars briefly before i met my mother at porter square so we could double-dip on michael's coupons. she bought a whole bunch of beading supplies. before she drove away, i gave her the binoculars.

i heated up my leftover tortellinis from yesterday for dinner. there was a pool of what looked to be butter at the bottom of the pan after i microwaved everything for 2 minutes. the secret of its deliciousness revealed!

of the korean melons, only 8 germinated, while 6 didn't. and of the 17 cucamelons, only one germinated, and i'm not even sure that's a cucamelon (might've been a stray seed). i'm hoping that cucamelon seeds just take a long time to germinate instead of getting a bunch of dead seeds.

i got in touch with somebody locally giving away kombucha scoby's (i volunteered to pay a small $5 fee). the person didn't get back to me until late, but i may have time tomorrow afternoon (after the tree cutting ceremony, hopefully) to visit coolidge corner and pick up a live culture for making my own kombucha drank.