i left my house around 11am, to tidy up the area around my parents' place before this supposed snowstorm arrives later tonight. the forecast says anywhere from 1-3" might fall in the boston area, but the snow will transition into rain in the early evening so by morning there might be nothing left of the snow. according to my plan, i was supposed to ride the motorcycle to belmont and leave it in the garage as a precaution in case we did get more precipitation than anticipated. of course when my motorcycle wouldn't start last night when i was in belmont, that sort of moved everything up by a day.

the temperature was at 32°F; it's gotten to the point that when the weather is above freezing, i think it's warm. factoring in the wind chill the temperature dipped a few degrees, but it seemed warmer than yesterday at least. besides, whenever we're due for some snow, the temperature always hovers around the freezing point.

i saw a USPS van pull up near my house while i was unlocking my bicycle outside. i waited to see if it was a delivery for me and sure enough, the delivery person slipped it into my mail slot. i went back to the house to see what i got. it was my ebay purchase of 10 pieces 20ml glass vials ($7.99). i'm going to use them to hold my sand collection.

the ongoing construction on huron avenue seems to be finished for the most part, or at least to the point where traffic is no longer diverted. they expanded the bike lane to include a safety buffer next to cars parked along the curb. i don't like it, because the bike lane is still next to the moving car lane, and now that the car lanes have been reduced in width significantly, i feel like if i actually ride in the painted bike lane, i'm actually closer to ongoing traffic than the way it was before. so i rode in between the bike lane and the buffer lane.

the first thing i did when i arrived in belmont was to check up on the motorcycle in the garage. even though the battery is supposed to be dead, i pulled out the choke and pushed the button to start the bike. it was sputtering at first, which is normally when i release the start button, but i tried something new this time, and kept the button on for 1-2 seconds longer than usual. the engine then suddenly roared to life, to my surprise. i turned off the engine and did it again with the choke back in. the bike started again without issue. so what was the problem last night? was it simply too cold, and putting the bike in the garage helped warm it up enough to start again? or was it because i didn't press the starter button long enough to give the engine time to ignite? whatever the case, i felt like i drained the battery enough over the past few days of cold starting attempts that it required to be recharged. i removed the seat to get to the battery. instead of taking it out, i charged it inside of the frame.

i wanted to open the air filter housing to see if the filter needs replacing, but the placement of the bolts were in an awkward place that i couldn't see how i'd get to even if i had the proper socket wrench. only later (back home, where i found a pdf of the honda shadow service manual) did i realize the enclosure is held in place by 4 smaller hex screws that can be easily opened from the front face of the housing. i also located the idle adjuster knob and the carburetor drain screw valve if i ever wanted to empty my carburetor.

my parents bought some bird food from OSJL yesterday and i put them into their respective containers to be hung outside. each food item has it's own challenges. the suet block is greasy so i used the plastic wrapper as a pair of makeshift gloves to stuff the block inside the suet cage. the globe feeder only has a small hole at the top of the dome to pour in the bird seeds. since the feeder is round, it rather rolls than stand up, so getting the seeds into the hole is a challenge, and typically some seeds always spill out no matter how carefully i pour.

around noontime i came back inside the house to eat half a loaf cake my mother had baked. i washed it down with some wood chuck hard apple cider. i watched a bit of pregame football coverage. i filled up two glass vials with pink bermuda beach sand. i used a plastic funnel, which wasn't a great idea because the small grains of sand would stick to the plastic due to static cling. what i should've done is scoop out the sand inside the bag itself using the vial.

12:30pm was when i began cleaning the gutters, starting with the garage first. cleaning the gutters isn't hard, you just climb up on a ladder and clean the dead leaves from the gutters. it's essential late fall maintenance if you have a house in new england because otherwise the gutters might clog up with melted snow and the resulting ice could damage the gutters and even the house (like overflowing ice melting in the walls). even so, i don't see a lot of belmont neighbors doing it. for one thing, if you have a tall house (2-3 stories), it can get a little dangerous, and not every household may have a tall enough ladder. in that case you need to hire professionals. my parents are lucky because they live in a single story house. the gutters not only fill up with dead leaves, but also little bits of roof shingles that get washed away over the years, as well as dirt that can accumulate over the seasons.

at first i thought it was going to be easy, since all the leaves i saw were dried and quick to remove, but then i realized there was a bottom layer of older decomposed leaves that was frozen stuck to the gutters. this happens because the front of the house faces north and doesn't get any sunlight to warm the gutters. i'd need to wait for a warmer day and see if the frozen patches have thawed out. if i'm really desperate, i could also maybe pour some boiling water into the gutter to melt the ice. this wasn't everywhere though, just on the part of the gutters closest to the downspout. in the center areas of the gutters there was still frozen patches but they weren't stuck to the gutters and i could easily pull them out in chunks for disposal.

* besides gutters, also raked leaves, covered front faucet, put dead leaf mulch in raised bed, cleaned picnic table, tidy up the backyard * working outside for the next 3 hours, non-stop except a 10 minute break * got warm enough that i eventually stripped down to just my dress shirt despite temperature being in the lower 30's (no wind though) * arrive at cafe by around 4pm, everyone is getting ready for observatory hill holiday stroll 2016

* go home to have frozen dumplings for dinner * learn about servo motors and how to use them with raspberry pi * pulsating sensation in my left foot, felt it last night, thought it was something in the basement vibrating, annoying as hell, think i'm going crazy * started snowing around 10pm * filled up glass vials with various sands from my personal collection

the israeli couple with the 2 young kids who live in the corner house have moved out i think. earlier today i saw a moving fan, and then a pile of apartment trash left out on the curb. there was a nice wooden vanity table that looked nice but i don't have room for more furniture in my house. there was also bags of children clothes and some toys. i picked up a glass vase and from the piles of books i found a barely-used paperback 2004 edition of the merriam-webster dictionary. i didn't really need it, but i figured i was saving it from the snow-then-rain that would be falling in a few more hours. the israelis lived here for a few years. i was on friendly "wave-to-say-hello" terms with the husband, and i remember digging out of snowstorms with him during past winters. the wife on the other hand, i don't think she ever said hi to me or acknowledged my existence. i think she was a bad mom, because sometimes i see her secretly smoking outside without her kids. i wonder if they returned to israel or maybe just moved elsewhere. i never knew what the husband did, i imagine he was a graduate student of some kind.