i bumped into mary while i was watering my garden plot in the late morning. she was there to take some photos of a few recent plants she added. while adjusting a brick, i discovered some termites living underneath. this felt familiar, not because my parents had termites one year, but because i remember also seeing them in my old plot as well. there's an underground termite infestation in the community garden, which could explain some of the rotten fence posts. nearby neighbors should be wary of their wooden properties.

i picked off a medium-sized tomato that had a bit of soft rot on one side, but i figured the other side should still be good to eat. it looked like some form of blight, but when i sliced the tomato in half, it was rotten all the way through. and i'm not sure if it's blight or maybe damaged caused initially by an insect because i thought i saw a hole coming in from the stem.

i thought my parents would be home in the afternoon but they took my 2nd aunt's shift tonight since she has to work every day all next week while my parents are on vacation. my mother might've been bored but my father didn't mind as he was waiting for his baofeng radios to arrive from amazon. there was a chance it might've arrived yesterday since it left the warehouse late monday night (for 2-day delivery), which would've given my father a day or two to test the radios. since it was arriving today, he'd only have a few hours to play around with it before taking them with him tomorrow morning.

i left for belmont, my mother telling me there were prepared to close the cafe early as soon as the radios arrived, to give themselves time to pack. a pair of replacement antennas had already showed in the early morning. so the rest of the day i waited with them, monitoring the progress online, which never changed, just said it was "out for delivery." morning turned to early afternoon then late afternoon then early evening and still the package was nowhere to be seen. i ate some leftover risotto i brought in two pyrex bowls.

there was a guarantee of delivery by 8pm, so we continued to wait patiently. when 8pm slowly approached, things began to look hopeless. while my parents were closing up shop, i called amazon directly asking them what happened to the delivery. i got in touch with logistics, who contacted the driver. logistics told me that in some areas (cambridge being one of them), amazon extend their delivery time to 9pm.

so i called my parents and told them what amazon told me. so after waiting the entire day, they waited another hour. an hour later the package was still nowhere to be found. while my father went outside looking to see if he could see an amazon van, i called amazon again. i got a dispatch, who patched me to logistics, who then called the driver, and then told me that all drivers were returning to the warehouse for the night, that there would be no more deliveries tonight. so basically we waited the entire day for nothing. i was a little angry, but what could i do? i asked if they could make sure they deliver it tomorrow before 10am, in which case my parents would still have time to take the radio with them. the logistics said they could guarantee anything as the drivers have a set route they typically take from the warehouse, but she'd make a note of it. it was a ray of hope at least, even if it might be in vain.

but while i was talking with the logistics person over the phone, i saw on the security webcam my father coming back into the cafe with an amazon box in his hands. before i could hang up with amazon, i heard the beeping of call waiting, my mother trying to get in touch with me to let me know they finally received the package. turns out just by dumb luck my father caught sight of an amazon van do the street and ran after it. the driver had 4 more deliveries to go and we were on the bottom of that list, but the driver was also being called back to the warehouse for the night. he ended up calling his dispatch to authorize the release of the package to my father. so a bad day with a happy ending.

my parents didn't get home until almost 9:30pm. they still had to pack, or at least my mother had to, as my father was too engrossed in trying to figure out how to use the radios. it worked right out of the box. we tested it in the house and the signal seemed pretty strong. we turned on CTCS (continuous tone coded squelch system) so we'd only receive and transmit on a specific signal tone (sort of like a privacy channel, though others would still be able to hear us, we wouldn't hear them and they couldn't talk to us). the UV-5R felt pretty substantial, had some metal heft to the weight, though still small enough to easily palm in one hand. it has a cool feature where the backlight of the display changes depending on whether you're transmitting or receiving (green, blue, purple). the original antenna was slightly longer than the length of the body of the radio, but we replaced it with the shorty bendable antennas. we also turned on voice activation on my radio, so i could test the transmission distance as i rode home soon afterwards.

i felt like a black ops commando or one of those fancy bicycle delivery hipster with my handheld radio. i rode as far as half a mile (about 2500 ft) before i lost the signal. it could've been because there was a hill blocking the line of sight between my parents' house and where i was. hopefully that won't matter on the cruise ship as the norwegian dawn is just 965 ft long. and that's without the use of a repeater, which would definitely boost the signal (though it'd require an amateur ham radio license).

back at home, i tried adding a channel to memory (128 channel settings) but after several attempts it still didn't work, not sure what the trick is. i also used the radio as a scanner. all of cambridge municipal departments (police, fire, EMS, DPW) use a fancy P25 trunk system so i couldn't listen to them. i could however listen in on somerville's police dispatch 470.53750 Mhz. it was interesting but boring, two cops relaying some street information.