even though she told me i just needed to go once a week (typically a friday), i went to renee's place this morning to water her plants. i'd been to her a house a bunch of times before (usually to fix her numerous computer problems for free) but this was the first time by myself. she's not the first neighbor to request my housesitting services; my upstairs neighbor steve asked me a few times, including once to empty daily a bucket of water from our leaking roof while they went on vacation. nobody seemed to be in renee's house, although there was the possibility that her son might be there or her roommate. renee left her roommate a note on the kitchen counter. "Tony - Chinese neighbor will be watering plants." chinese neighbor. why not just neighbor? or next door neighbor? i felt a little weird afterwards, suddenly becoming aware of my minority status and how others might see me, not as a person but rather a race. the plants ended up not needing all that much watering, as she watered plenty before she left last friday. as for her fruit flies problem, there were none today because she finally got rid of her fruits which were lying outside. no fruits, no fruit flies!

i've been reading red rising by pierce brown, having heard it follows in the epic storytelling tradition of the stormlight archive. for some reason it comes off as a YA novel, since the protagonist is a teenage boy. it reminds me a lot of the dystopian YA scifi that was en vogue a while back, the mockingjays and the divergents and the katniss everdeens. the hero of the book comes from a slave caste that reminds me strongly of irish culture, how they're described with red hair and have a real working class tradition of drinking and singing and dancing. it was starting to get a little boring until i hit chapter 9 (the lie) and now i'm finally intrigued. i already downloading the other 2 books in the trilogy, so i'm in it for the long haul if this first book turns out to be good.

i e-mailed john from boston solar, asking him if he could send me an early draft of a 27 panel LG 320 solar system with a price. he called me back close to lunchtime to say he wasn't able to do that, something about how their company isn't one of those that quickly scribbles some numbers based off of a satellite image, but i got the feeling he wanted a face-to-face so he'd have a chance to do his salesman song and dance. that annoyed me at first, but he answered my questions and seemed pretty knowledgeable. at the very least boston solar was one of the companies recommended by jonathan from direct energy solar. john also made me aware that since so many solar installs are happening, the stock of LG panels are running out. as for the mass solar loan, there's still plenty of money left in the fund, but the fund to pay down the loan interest is quickly disappearing. i told john that we were also looking at new england clean energy, and he said they were a good company, but told me boston solar's proposal price typically comes out lower. if that's true, then we may very well go with boston solar. i did manage to push up our meeting for next week: instead of tuesday morning it's now monday morning at the cafe.

i wanted to get in touch with level solar and tell them we weren't interested, but i didn't have arthur's e-mail address (he never sent it to me). so i decided to ride the motorcycle to belmont to find his business card. as i approached the house, i noticed a car leaving our street. could it be? hanging from the door was a notice from level solar saying that brian just finished his site survey. drats. i was hoping to inform arthur beforehand, so they wouldn't have to waste time doing a survey. i grabbed his business card and went to the cafe.

something didn't feel right and i only confirmed it when i got to the cafe: the business card was gone! i must've dropped it somewhere in the house while i was leaving. i stopped by the cafe because my father's new moto G4 plus was arriving today, but it didn't arrive yet. so i rode back to belmont, where the card was right by the curb near where i parked the motorcycle, must've fallen out of my pocket.

i was almost home when i felt my phone buzzing in my pocket. i had a feeling as to who it was and when i saw it was from my father, i knew the phone had arrived. i returned to the cafe to grab the new phone. it was surprisingly light, with an all plastic body. i then headed home so i could bike into harvard square to the verizon wireless office, until i realized it was quicker just to ride there on the motorcycle, parking on one of the residential outskirts. turns out the nearest residential outskirt was still two blocks away from the square proper.

i arrived at the verizon wireless office where there was about half a dozen agents but nary a customer. one of the agents broke from the crowd to help me out. turns out they didn't even need the old phone in order to switch the number to the new device. all they needed was the number. the agent was eyeballing the phone for quite a while, and i thought there might be something wrong, but he was trying to decide whether it needed a micro SIM card or a nano SIM card. in then end he picked the micro SIM card. it was all pretty effortless, but i still i was anxious because in my experience, any kind of phone updating always ends in complications. but a lot has improved since the last time i had to get service for a phone, and after a few minutes of the agent punching in a bunch of mysterious numbers, he handed the phone back to me and said it was finished. just like that. with no additonal charge. this was one of those rare occasions when i was genuinely thankful of verizon wireless instead of the usual cursing them out.

leaving the store, i received a call from lawrence. who do i know from lawrence? thinking it might be a solar installer, i picked up but the phone disconnected. a minute later my phone beeped letting me know i had a voicemail message. turns out it was yulia, she was having another computer problem. i could've taken the motorcycle but decided it was quicker just to walk across harvard square to get to her store.

yulia was surprised to see me since i didn't call her back. her issue seemed to be OSX related, with freezing screens. it was bearable but annoying, and only started happening within the past few days. i updated the system then told her to let me know if the machine had more issues.

i walked back across harvard square, to one of the mt.auburn side streets, to retrieve my motorcycle. only then was i finally able to return to the cafe one last time to deliver the activated motorola phone to my father.

after signing into google with my father's gmail account, we let the phone update the operating system followed by downloading all essential apps. the screen is surprisingly bright and sharp despite being only on 25% brightness. we recorded our fingerprints for the security sensor but it didn't seem to work very well (kept bringing up pin access) and when i disabled security it cleared the fingerprint records. the OS on the moto is surprisingly free of bloatware. the only thing that wasn't stock android was the weird clock-temperature widget in the center of the screen that was hard to decipher.

 moto G4 plus XT1644coolpad F1 8297W
announcedmay 20161Q 2014
dimensions153 x 76.6 x 9.8 mm141 x 71.5 x 9.3 mm
weight155 g 158 g
SIMsingle micro-SIMdual-SIM
display size5.5"5.0"
display resolution1080 x 1920720 x 1280
platformandroid 6.0.1 (upgradable to 7.0)android 4.4
chipsetsnapdragon 617mediatek MT6592
CPUocta-core (4x1.5 Ghz, 4x1.2 GHz)octa-core (8x1.74 GHz)
GPU sizeadreno 405ARM mali-450 MP4 @700 MHz
card slotup to 256GBup to 64GB
memory internal16GB/2GB RAM8GB/2GB RAM
camera primary16 MP f/2.0 phase detection and laser autofocus, dual-LED flash13 MP
camera secondary5 MP f/2.25 MP
wifi802.11 a/b/g/n802.11 b/g/n
radio (FM)yesyes
batterynon-removable li-ion 3000 mAhremovable li-ion 2500 mAh

the moto G4 marks my father's 3rd android phone (and the first one with US data). prior to that he had the coolpad F1 8297W that i got him back in 2014 which he still carries despite having a smaller 5" screen and running android 4.2. next i gave him the xiaomi redmi note 3 that i got in china spring of last year. that one is actually a very good phone as it's only a year old so still comparable to modern phones. well-designed, the only drawback of the xiaomi is the MIUI OS which has some annoying quirks. and now finally the moto G4. he was using an LG flip phone as his regular phone, but he mistreated that phone so badly - flipping closed the phone with too much force - that the hinge was broken and the phone prone to losing power with warning. it's actually the 3rd flip phone he's managed to destroy, all with broken hinges (he inherited my flip phone when i transitioned to the iphone a few years back).

i tried the camera on the moto G4. you could select between either a shutter button or anywhere screen tap to take a photo. there was also a professional option where you could manually tweak a bunch of settings like white balance and shutter speed. it snapped a photo quickly, which is what you want with a camera phone. the first smart phone i ever owned (china-purchased ZTE V975), the lag time between shutter click and actual photo was about a second which meant it was impossible to take pictures of anything moving unless there was in bright daylight (still, i loved that phone).

one thing i didn't even bother testing at the store was if the motorola was in fact able to receive and make calls. i wanted to test at the store but the agent told me it'd work so i believed him. just to make sure, i called my father and he was able to pick up fine, voice was clear and loud. he called me and i was able to receive without any problems. i think it was a weird experience for him, so much so that he didn't know how to answer his ringing phone. besides his few weeks of using a smart phone while vacationing in taiwan, my father has never had a working smart phone here in the US. sure, he and i both have android phones, but we use them as wireless devices only since both are GSM and don't work on the CDMA verizon network. it will take some time to get used to having internet access via data when you're not on wifi. i know when i got my hand-me-down iphone 5S from my sister, it took me a while to get used to using it. i slowly made the switch when i realized the iphone has a great camera, and discovered the joy of posting live photos to my social media when i was out in the field. i also use my data a lot for GPS directions and the occasional pokemon go session.

i finally left the cafe by 4:45pm. feeling a little hungry (i only had some granola and yogurt for lunch), i cut up some pita bread and dipped it with a bowl of store-bought tzatziki. i wrote arthur an e-mail telling him we were going with another vendor. he wrote back understandingly, said he hopes to work with us in the future.

i ordered a rubber case (simpeak clear case 2-pack $5.08) and a screen protector (dmaz armor tempered glass 2-pack $4.99) for the moto G4 off of amazon. it's due to arrive on thursday courtesy of prime shipping.

GC came home around 7pm and immediately made dinner. tuesday nights he cooks beef, which has a fragrant aroma unlike his seafood. he ate while watching episode of rick and morty in the kitchen. i asked if he was going to watch the final 2 episodes of westworld and he said yes but also had a paper to write and i ended up not seeing him the rest of the night. as for me, i made some tuna fish sandwich for dinner. i let GC try some, as he's neither ever tried tuna before nor a tuna fish sandwich. later i shared a cripps pink apple, thinking it was a honeycrisp apple instead.

li called me on my phone around 9pm. i was taken aback, because typically nobody calls me that late at night except my parents. i didn't recognize the number and initially assumed it was another solar energy vendor, because i'm been dealing with so many over the past few weeks, not thinking that even they wouldn't dare calling me at night. and when li told me who he was, i totally didn't recognize his name as i don't remember any chinese names. it took a few seconds for my brain to catch on to what was happening. li called to say that he finally decided he would like to stay at my place after all, a few days after he promised me he'd let me know by last sunday. apparently he and his 2 other coworker friends couldn't make it happen with that apartment they found. my guess is it was simply too expensive, as the observatory hill area has gentrified to the point where only the rich can afford it. so not the 3 months at my place, but come december he relocates to my grand uncle's apartment where he'll stay for another 9 months at least.

so it looks like solo living will have to hold off until the winter. at least i'll get a little bit of income from the inconvenience of having a roommate for 3 more months. li also asked me on the phone if GC and i were doing anything fun this weekend. i lied and told him we had nothing planned yet, when in fact earlier tonight i told GC about the puerto rican parade happening on sunday.