i woke up at 7am to get ready to drive into boston to pick up my parents at the black falcon cruise ship terminal. minutes later my mother called, said they were just "landing," but it probably won't be until 9:30am before they can be released, so i didn't have to leave until 9am. it was nice to be up early with nothing to do, watching neighbors go to work, the rest of the day still up for grabs. just when i was about to leave, my father called and said they were already outside, and suggested i pick them up a little bit away from the terminal so i wouldn't get caught in the snarl of cruise departing and arriving traffic.

i made very good time: i left my house at 9:02am but arrived at black falcon terminal by 9:23am, just 20 minutes later. driving on the highway makes me anxious, especially if there's congestion, but that time of the day was already after rush hour so the car density was a little more manageable.

just getting from my place to the turnpike across central square was challenging due to road construction on beacon street and the convoy of bike traffic. people talk about how cyclists are scared of being hit by cars; what they don't know is how fearful drivers are of accidentally hitting a biker, especially when they're weaving and dodging between traffic. it's like as a driver i have to look in every direction multiple times just to make sure there's no speeding cyclist passing by. the turnpike was okay, as long as i remembered to get in the right lane to take exit 25. i'm still not that familiar with the newly configured seaport district, but there was hardly any cars around so i didn't feel any pressure and found my destination.

unfortunately the area around the terminal was heavy with traffic, along with a crew of police officers directing said traffic. was it ever like this on fridays when i worked at the boston design center many years ago? i tried going to the end of the terminal but it'd been rerouted as an exit only so i couldn't park there. i doubled back and found a parking spot near a big "19" sign and called my parents. i had no idea where they were but they remembered the 19 sign and said they'd come and meet me. minutes later my father called back again, said he could already see me, and said they'd be there in a few minutes.

my father ended up driving back home, while i navigated our way out of the seaport district via google map. they had good weather on their vacation, there was just a brief shower when they were in bermuda but that was it. they saw the eclipse and thankfully were smart enough not to stare too long at the sun as i didn't know how well the solar glasses worked. a lot of people on the cruise had no idea the eclipse was happening and didn't come prepared. they dropped me off at my place first before heading to the cafe to relieve my 2nd aunt of duty. my mother gave me some fried chicken wings and muffins she'd pilfered from the cruise ship.

catone finished its molt this morning, a husk of dead skin behind the slightly larger new 3rd instar caterpillar. it had just emerged, because one minute it had tiny antenna, another minute they were inflated and longer. cattwo was still busy feeding at the top of the milkweed leaf.

i ate the chicken wings and one of the muffins, never had cruise food before. the muffin was meh, the wings were okay. imagine being on a boat for a week where the food is all you can eat. if they can receive football games, i'd be in sports heaven just holed up in my cabin with a bucket of wings, watching the games, the view of the ocean outside my balcony.

50 minutes later catone underwent more changes, its face darking to a black white pattern when previously it was just yellow with some white bands. after it finally finished its metamorphosis, it turned around and began to eat up its dead skin.

a delivery van dropped something off on my doorstep. what i originally thought was my 40oz. takeya insulated bottle turned out to be just the watch back press i ordered off of ebay. it didn't come with instructions but it seemed pretty self-explanatory. i picked a bottom disc that was large enough for my watch to fit on. i put a small piece of cloth underneath the watch so nothing would get scratched. on the top i screwed on an hourglass shaped piece used to press down the watch back. the first few times i tried it there didn't seem to be enough force on the press to snap the back into place. i finally - more out of frustration than anything else - pressed down on the handle even harder, and i heard a horrible cracking noise. afraid that i broke the glass watch face, i turned the watch over and saw that it was okay. not only that, but the metal back was now in place again. success! i then put the watch back press away, to be used in another 2-3 years when i need to replace the watch battery again.

i took the motorcycle to the cafe to drop off my father's credit cards and my grand uncle's medical cards that my father left behind for me while he was on vacation. i also gave my mother her cellphone. i also gave my father the baofeng programming cable which arrived yesterday (although he'll need my help to program the baofeng radios). i didn't ask in the car, but he told me that the radios were very well on the cruise ship, that they could hear each other everywhere except in the very heart of the oceanliner.

next i went in search of milkweed leaves. i remember them growing around the edge of claypit around by the belmont high school. it was weird being back on school ground, even if it was just outside. school hasn't started yet but there were a group of marching band kids practicing. they eyed me suspiciously as i got off my motorcle. going to school here, we always just took the pond for granted. nobody ever really used it of course, since the water is too polluted to swim. and only losers and delinquents would ever think about walking around the pond during lunch break (it was large enough that you couldn't make it back anyway and still catch your next class).

i spotted some milkweeds, but they all seemed diseased, so i didn't pick any. by then i was ready to give up and wanted to ride up to rock meadow where i was sure to find milkweed there. but as just as i leaving, i spotted a large patch of milkweed growing on the western edge of the pond. i stopped the motorcycle by the side of the road to investigate.

there was milkweed galore. some were yellow, and a few had disease spots, but most seemed healthy, and no aphid infestation, which is typically the case with poor milkweed. i picked just 2 leaves and put it into a jar i'd bought for the occasion, along with a wet paper towel to give them some moisture.

no longer needing to visit rock meadow, i went to my parents' house instead. as my parents hadn't been home yet, i opened some windows and turned on some fans to air out the stuffy house. i also watered the garden and did some more crabgrass weeding. my sister came home, back from her weeklong new hampshire jaunt. i told her not to mess up the house before i left.

soon after i returned home another package arrived on my doorstep. this time i knew what it was: my 40oz. takeya insulated bottle. excitingly i ran into the kitchen to rinse out the container before filling it with ice cubes and water. while the weather is still warm, i can continue to enjoy my ice cold water without worrying about dripping condensation on the tabletop. in terms of problems it's a pretty minor one, but just one of the little joys of life. i still like the 40 oz. exquis, before it stopped insulating.

the takeya has a fancy lid, with a sturdy metal-hinged carrying loop, and designed so you can unscrew the lid completely to add ice cubes or quick fill, but also a twist-off drinking spout with the cap attached to the lid so it doesn't get lost. i got the plain stainless steel version because it was the cheapest ($20); the color ones cost $30-40. the one thing the takeya is missing is a non-slip grip; the smooth metal surface of the container can be slippery to hold if wet. i could always remove the rubber sleeve from the exquis and put it on the takeya. but i've learned to hold the bottle from the lid, which has have a rubberized grip, so maybe it was designed for this purpose.

i ate the second muffin my mother gave me. that one was a blueberry muffin and it tasted really good. for some reason the fresh blueberries were at the bottom of the muffin. despite that, this was perhaps one of the best blueberry muffins i've had in a while.

when evening came around i cooked up the remaining frozen chinese dumplings for dinner while watching the patriots pre-season game against the detroit lions. the past 2 games the patriots seemed to be pulling their punches, particularly on the offense, where the team seemed like they didn't want to reveal too much. tonight the kid gloves were off, and the offense was rocking, quickly scoring 2 touchdowns. unfortunately julian edelman got hurt in a non-contact play, and the word on the street is a torn ACL, so his season is probably over. despite winning all those superbowls, the patriots never seem to get a break, and bad luck strikes the team as much as any other NFL teams. hopefully gronk can stay healthy the entire season.

monarch caterpillars evening status: cattwo suddenly stopped feeding this afternoon and crawled to a quiet place to molt, transitioning to the 2nd instar. after fully developing into the 3d instar, catone began feeding again, chewing up a new hole in the milkweed leaf in a single day that would've taken 2 days under the previous instar. however, instead of eating non-stop, it quit at one point to roam around the leaf. that got me worried because i didn't want catone to disturb cattwo during its molt, or even worse, to eat cattwo, as monarch cannibalism can happen, especially between different instars. but after taking a stroll, catone went back to chewing on the hole it'd created earlier. but then it stopped feeding again, and crawled to the center of the leaf, behaving like it was going to molt again, even though it just molted this morning. perhaps it was just sleeping, which made realize, do caterpillars even sleep? but an hour or two later, it was active again, returning to the same hole to continue feeding. maybe it just needs time to digest.

i did a load of laundry today, including the sheets from the guest bedroom. li called me in the evening, asking when it'd be a good time for him to move in. "september 1st," i said, as if that was the obvious answer. but he has to leave his current apartment by the end of the month, which means he has to be out of there before september. so we agreed on august 31st (thursday), and i told him i could borrow a car and help him move his two large suitcases (his phd work requires him to be in the country for 2 years).