pruning the holly tree and trying to repair the old craftsman oil-based air compressor took up the first hour of my morning; i only started to sand around 10:00 after my father left for the cafe. he came back soon afterwards with a set of hex wrenches so we could open the compressor's cylinder head and see what was broken inside. the valve plate and the valve reeds all seem fine. maybe it has something to do with a leaky gasket. the compressor will pump up to 20 psi but won't go up any higher. we can play the game of part replacements, but some parts are cheap while others are expensive. if something like the piston is busted, it may not be worth it to try and save this compressor. i went back to sanding after my father left again for the cafe.

i stopped sanding by noontime, the exposed sun making it too hot to work. still, it took me about half an hour to clean up, the hardest part scooping up the dust left on the tarps. since i'm doing detail sanding now, i don't bother with the shop vac anymore. at one point i even brought out the belt sander, on a particular patch of thick paint that needed something more heavy duty than a gentle orbital sander. speaking of which, i switched to the old RO sander, the one who brought back to life with some replacement parts. the new sander needs a break skirt replacement, i can feel it eating more wood than i'd like.

i went for a grocery run after i got home (while getting my bicycle from the backyard, i found three large boxes waiting for me, frances' merchandise), first making a detour at the community garden. it rained a little bit early this morning so the soil was still damp. i didn't bother watering, but instead collected some ripe vegetables: 4 tomatoes, a bunch of old jalapeno peppers, an eggplant, and another zucchini.

i kept getting severe weather advisory messages on my phones. i turned on the television around 3:30 and all local channels were covering the approaching storm. not only would there be thunder and lightning, but there was also a risk of tornadoes, and possibly hail.

when the storm finally arrived, it was pretty exciting. it started with a heavy torrential rain, then punctuated by ice pellets that grew progressively larger. they ranged in size from rock salt crystals to boba tapioca balls, with occasional hail the size of large marbles. i didn't see any golfball-sized stones nor any baseball-sized stones like some people were saying. i even tried a few of the ice pellets, very cold. i had my window opened at one point to take photos, and hail ricochet into my living room like bullets. it didn't last very long, and the ongoing rain soon melted all the ice pellets. finally, the rain stopped, the sun appeared, and the clouds disappeared.

my mother fixed me up some leftover thai red curry for lunch. for dinner i had a bowl of legal seafood clam chowder. i found the consistency kind of watery, i prefer a thicker chowder (maybe it was just because this was the store-bought version).

rest of the day i tried to cool down the house. after the storm, the temperature dropped 10 points to 70°. because it was so cold outside, it didn't feel right cooling the house with the air conditioner. but with all this insulation in my walls, the hot air would not escape. i opened as many windows as possible and at one point had 5 different fans running. the room temperature only dropped a degree or two. i need a better system to circulate the air inside my house.

140804: i left changshou in the early morning, taking the town bus first to qi'an bus station for the one hour ride to chongqing, then taking the subway to chongqing north rail road station to grab the high speed train to chengdu. this would be my third trip to the capital of sichuan province (not counting my first time back in 2006; december 2013, march 2014).

in chengdu i stayed at the haiyo hotel. since it was my 3rd time in chengdu, i knew the city fairly well, at least the parts i've visited before. from the train station i took the subway to chunxi lu, the nearest station to the hotel, which was still about a 20 minute walk. i had my large backpack and was too tired to walk it, so i was on the lookout for a taxi. unfortunately i had a hard time hailing one, my technique not aggressive enough versus the natives. some scooter drivers noticed me and told me they could take me to my hotel. at first i was hesitant, since it didn't seem like my backpack would fit on a scooter, but one of them convinced me that it would (wedged in the footrest area) so i agreed. riding a scooter is probably the fast way to get to anywhere in chengdu, especially when the driver is willing to go in the opposite direction of one way streets!

in order to save money, i got the cheapest room at haiyo hotel. all the rooms there i had before were really great, so i figured what could go wrong? well, the cheap room was one located in the center of the hotel, without any windows. actually, there was a window, but it looked into the hallway towards the stairwell. the room was also tiny, with a bed that touched 3 walls. however, the bathroom was unusually large, about half the size of the room. i decided to stick it out in this room for tonight, and then change to a different room tomorrow.

it was in chengdu that i decided to invite sunmeng with me on trip to western sichuan. why i didn't think of it in the first place is a mystery. she wasn't doing anything at the moment anyway, in hindsight it seemed the most logical choice. my original plan was to go traveling on my own, and then when i returned to changshou, sunmeng and i would spend a week in xi'an, where i had a very good time on my last visit back in july (2014). maybe i didn't think she could rough it out in tibetan territory, but at the very least we could spend some time in chengdu, and maybe if she was into it, she could come with my further west, with the understanding that she could return home at anytime. but the farther we went, the harder it'd be for her to leave, purely for logistical reasons. regardless, she wouldn't be able to arrive until tomorrow morning, so at the very least i had the day just to myself, going around chunxi lu taking photos.