now we are down to the final lower left corner of the western wall. there are still places to touch up, but maybe a few days at most with the orbital sander (probably don't even need the shopvac at that point), and the whole surface will be ready for painting. we probably won't paint until we finish sanding the front of the house as well, just to get all the prep work done. once we start the painting stage that should be all that we're doing. at this rate, it's possible for us to finish painting the house by the end of august, or at the very least prime all surfaces. some rotting shingles need to replaced and maybe a rotting windowsill, never done those sort of repairs before, so they might take a few days.

lower left corner is a hard place to sand because i have so many perennials growing down below. we placed bricks on the spots where we can stand, but even then, a few plants got damaged (trampled leaves, broken stems).

my father had been using the ryobi belt sander with the dust collection pouch, but the machine makes so much dust that attaching the shop vac is essential. late last night i ordered a 1-1/4" to 2-1/2" shop vac adapter ($5.95); but my father managed to rig one up using a used mini-roller cover, some duct tape, and a hose clamp. the roller cover is the perfect size: 1-1/4" inner diameter, 2-1/2" outer diameter. it worked so well i quickly went online to see if i could cancel my ebay purchase (i was too late).

i got a chance to use the belt sander today. first of all, its heavy, and requires two hands to operate. second, there's no safety button, pressing the trigger immediately starts the sanding action. in fact, there's actually a lock to keep the machine on. finally, when it sands it naturally wants to pull away, so a good part of using it is just pulling it back, which can be tedious on the arm muscles. a few times i almost fell down from the kickback because i didn't have my feet securely planted.

sanding with the belt sander is definitely a lot faster. i've said this in the past, but 10 minutes of belt sanding equals 4 hours of orbital sanding. the only catch is the belt sander is kind of hard to use. and the dust! even with the shop vac attached (being carefully about the hose not accidentally crushing more plants), it was still dusty. at the very least there wasn't a lot of airborne dust though, most of it just falling on the tarps set up below.

my father left for work by 11:00. i did some detail sanding with the orbital sander for the next 2 hours. by noontime the sun was already shining on top of me which wa a little unbearable in the heat, but i powered through it and worked another hour before finally stopping at 1:00. my sister gave my mother a ride back from the cafe around that time. i finally finished cleaning (and watering the garden while i was at it) by 1:30.

after a shower i had some noodles my mother made for me. i rode the motorcycle back to cambridge soon afterwards.

wangyang messaged me, said she had some bad news, told me she wouldn't be able to come to boston next month. i had a feeling it wasn't going to happen. it was so last minute, airfare from venezuela to the US is really expensive ($1000 roundtrip). but the reason wasn't the price: her boss didn't make it back to the project site, so now she has more work than originally anticipated and can't leave just yet. she still might be able to do a boston trip but it will be november-december at the earliest, since she's returning to china for a month in october.

i went to the comcast office on beacon street to see if i can get a better deal for my grand uncle's cable service. he pays $136/month for cable/internet, and that's not even including HD, which is an additional $10/month. there are some package deals, but only for new customers. i casually joked that the only way to get a discount would be to sign up with a different person, and my agent actually agreed, so it is something people have done before. even with the package deal though, they're only good for a year, and after that period the price skyrockets again. if only cambridge had some cable competition instead of this comcast monopoly! i'd switch to verizon FIOS in a heartbeat.

coming back, i stopped by star market to pick up a watermelon ($2.99 sale), some blueberries (99¢ a box), a bowl of legal seafood clam chowder, and 8 ears of corn ($2.99).

i rode my newly-upgraded bicycle for the first time, with the foam grips. they feel pretty good, but the real test is to see if they'll give my contact dermatitis like my old handlebar grips.

i had a salad for dinner, then later in the evening some korean ramen. i finally finished those black grapes, and ate a quarter of the watermelon i bought earlier.