with the ongoing beacon street construction, my own street has become unusually quite. drivers now avoid using my street as a shortcut to beacon, and even if they do, they can only make a right turn detour due to the jersey barriers. supposedly it'll take 6 weeks to finish this current stretch of beacon street, 3 weeks per side of the road.

i went down to michael's to get some special crafts glue for my pressed flower-in-a-floating-frame project (mod podge). because the glue itself was so cheap, i called my mother to ask her if she wanted me to get her anything since i still had a 50%-off-one-item coupon. she asked me to buy her a pair of takumi circular needles (size 7 16") so she can return the ones she got yesterday.

i swung by my garden plot to do some more weeding. i pulled out some ground ivy, some mint, some grass. the delphiniums have flowered, with more blooms to come in the following few weeks. they range in colors from white to deep purple, with a few pinks. no blues though. i searched through the rest of the community garden, i think i'm the only one growing delphiniums this season. i think the delphiniums are what's keeping my plot from looking like nothing's been planted, because honestly, i haven't transplanted anything plants yet. everything sprung up on their own so far.

i didn't even really do anything, they sort of self-sown from the end of last season. i'm also confused as to what exactly they are. i thought they were delphiniums, but the leaves don't look the same, and now i'm wondering if they're not annual larkspurs instead, a close relative of delphiniums (larkspurs have feathery fronds while true delphiniums have bigger leaves). but they're not exactly annuals because i transplanted a few from last fall in front of my house and they all came back this spring. i brought my hardcover journal and a small pair of scissors and snipped a few delphiniums/larkspurs to make new pressed flowers.

i also have a solitary columbine plant in my plot that has a few showy flowers. they might make good pressed flowers but i couldn't bare to cut any of them because they looked so pretty. there's also a transplanted 2nd season hollyhock that has flowered yet but has some buds. finally, a wild tomato grows in the empty plot.

i wandered through the rest of the community garden, taking photos of flowers:

my 2nd aunt finally came back from her month-long california-taiwan-california vacation. my mother was going to drop by my place to deliver some snacks my aunt had brought back from taiwan, but by the late afternoon my mother called to cancel.

for lunch i had an onion bagel with salmon cream cheese; for dinner i heated up 2 meat zongzi.

my cough which i've had since the first week of may seems to be getting worse now. i meant to go down to the drugstore to get some cough medicine but forgot. i'll do that tomorrow. there's this persistent phlegm in the back of my sinuses that i just can't seem to get rid of that i think is the root cause of my coughing.

i haven't had a reason to use my VPN since returning to the US. getting a VPN before leaving for china was one of the smartest things i did and i recommend it to anyone as essential when planning a visit to china. even so, it was still a hassle getting online. on my phone i normally had the VPN turned off if i was outside because i was afraid it was either going to drain the battery or my 1GB of data. of course that didn't matter for my oneplus one, which i found out despite being a china brand phone was purposely crippled via software to not work in china (incompatible with china unicom, unless i installed a patch that required wiping the phone completely since it involved installing the chineser version of the OS). and when i did get an alternate phone (xiaomi redmi 3 note), i discovered the china version of MIUI purposely crippled VPN (that "bug" was finally fixed in the final few weeks of my stay in china however).

VPN on my macbook pro was easier to deal with in china as i normally just left it on. vpn.ac has special plug-ins for browsers which works better than regular system-wide VPN apps in that it's designed to disguise browser traffic, which is essential in subverting the great china firewall. but the problem with VPN's (at least when it comes to their usage in china) is occasionally protocols and/or servers don't work, so every so often i have to dig around to find a new setting to get over the firewall. and there's definitely a speed decrease when i reroute my web traffic through a VPN. then i started turning off the VPN on my laptop when i wasn't using it when i noticed my computer would get very hot (hot enough that the machine would just shut down). i wasn't sure what was causing it, could be anything from constant attempts to update software despite being blocked by the china firewall to voltage difference (china is 220V, US is 120V).

and finally, because i was living in a hotel and using their free wifi, i had the share bandwidth with all the other hotel guests (which meant slow connections), plus every so often i had to relogin with my passport number in order to regain web access (although china has a lot of free wifi places, they normally require you to register with your phone number, in case they need to track your activities). over time i sort of got used to it, but it makes me appreciate returning to the US, where our internet access isn't blocked by the government. it's nice to be able to get onto google or use the maps app or backup my photos without giving it a second thought. anyway, long story short, i canceled my vpn.ac subscription with a week left in the quarterly billing cycle.