the monarch was still hanging upside on the twig in the jar inside the plastic case when i woke up this morning. after i used the bathroom and came back into the kitchen, the butterfly was down in one corner of the container flapping her wings, trying to get out. i opened the back door and was hoping i'd be able to coax the butterfly onto my hand and set it somewhere outside where i could take some final photos, but the instant i opened the plastic case door, the butterfly made a quick getaway to the door and flew outside. it landed for a few seconds on my tibetan prayer flags before leaving in the windy condition (at least it wasn't raining). and that was it. the end of my monarch raising. it's a thankless task, but i like to think that all the monarchs i've released are all on their way to mexico, that i am in a very small way contributing to the overall monarch population.
it was 9am and li hadn't gone to work yet. whenever a roommate breaks pattern and sleeps in late, i immediately begin to think, are they dead? fortunately he finally got up around 9:30am and left for the office by 10am. a little later than usual but i can't fault him on that having just arrived from hawaii yesterday and was still probably tired from the return trip.
late last night i upgraded iOS on my iphone 5s to 11.0. frankly i was surprised apple even supported a phone from 2013, so perhaps this will be the last update. anyway, i'm not particularly in love with the new minimalist user interface nor the bigger font size. iOS 11 is completely 64-bit, so the old foscam webcam app no longer worked. i downloaded the free OWLRFoscam which is actually better but i wasn't able to log into one of the cameras (could be a camera issue rather than app issue). i only really use the iphone for 4 things: make phone calls (and occasional text message), take photos (better camera than my android OPO phone), play pokemon go (now less and less as my gaming time has been consumed by the crack cocaine of game apps candy crush saga), and checking google maps for direction. all other activities i do on my other phone (OPO).
my father called me in the morning asking if i could swing by my grand uncle's place to fix the dementia clock that's been broken for a few days now. but while i was talking with him on the phone he seemed to have realized what was wrong with it: the LCD monitor was broken. when i finally arrived around 11am we confirmed that indeed the monitor was dead, no longer powering on. fortunately my father had two other old LCD monitors in the cafe basement. we simply switched out the monitor and the raspberry pi zero automatically booted up just as i'd programmed it, pulling the correct time from the internet via wifi.
afterwards my father showed me the basement where he wants to hire someone to reroute the air intake duct to the furnace. the current route is too long and winding and a few times during the winter not enough air gets to the furnace, which creates a backdraft situation where it then pulls deadly carbon monoxide back into the house that would normally escape up the chimney. even with the shorter pathway my father was stilling thinking about adding a powered duct fan to draw in even more air. so we took a quick trip the watertown home depot where he could buy a 6" duct fan. due to traffic, the quick trip ending up taking an hour. when we got back, my mother already had my sister's godmother deliver my grand uncle's lunch.
at the cafe i ran into my roommate li, who was there having beef noodle soup for lunch. he said he knew i was here because he saw my motorcycle outside. i returned home, where i left with a drumstick and two flavored hard-boiled eggs my mother gave me. i ate the chicken and one of the eggs for lunch, before going back again.
i went to pet supplies plus at the fellsway plaza in medford to look for a water conditioner for my aquarium tank. i did some research beforehand. i used to use API tapwater conditioner, which had a really pleasant smell. then i started using amquel plus, which smells awful, and i always wanted to switch back to API. however i read that API conditioner is okay but not the best, and it only breaks apart the chloramines, leaving ammonia ions in the water. the better option is seachem prime, which not only removes chlorine and chloramines, but also detoxifies ammonia and nitrite. unfortunately seacham does have an awful smell, but i'm willing to tolerate it if it means safer water for my aquarium. when i got to the store, they didn't seem to have a lot in terms of water conditioners. and what little selection they did have were expensive, twice as much online prices for twice as less. i was also looking for activated carbon, which were also more expensive. i decided to order online, only leaving with a 0.4 oz. container of tetra color tropical flake fish food ($2.98).
i went next door to aldi to look around. this was just my second time here, the first time being back in may. i realized aldi is so cheap because they carry mostly off-brand foods, names i don't recognize. most of the people shopping there were senior citizens, which is about the only people who can out in the middle of the afternoon. they sold a pair of cobra two-way radios for $19.99, the exact same ones my father salvaged and manage to bring back to life. they also had a collapsible footstool for $5.99 that i was interested in getting but decided to think about it bit. i finally left with a bag of red grapes ($2.98), a roll of peppered salami ($3.79), and some cool mints (99¢).
returning home, i made one more stop, at the assembly square mall, to see the new trader joe's (just opened august 4th), in the space where the a.c.moore crafts store used to be. besides seeing the new store, i was also there to see if i could find some sweet moscato wine (yes they sell alcohol here), ever since reading about it online. business was booming, and it was weird being there, as i could still remember the old layout of the a.c.moore store. where the wine department is? that used to be where i'd come at least once a week to buy yarn for mother. diary department? this was where they sold frames. i still miss that old a.c.moore, it was nice to have some variety. now it seems the only crafts store game within the near vicinity is michael's. i finally found my moscato d'asti ($8.99/bottle) after an exhaustive search, i always feel out of place in the liquor store. i also bought two bottles of charles shaw cabernet sauvignon for my father after calling him to make sure that's what he wanted ($2.99/bottle, my mother complained i didn't get my father any wine when i was at the memorial drive trader joe's a few days ago). some chili spiced mango ($2.49/pack), soft twist black licorice ($2.49), and a demi baguette ($1.19) to go with my peppered salami.
out in the parking lot i noticed what looked to be the round end of a plastic container stuck into the pavement. i didn't give it much attention until i saw another one, then another. they were everywhere, in every parking spot, there was some purpose to all of this. turns out these are wireless occupancy sensor for parking lots. somewhere out there somebody is able to monitor how many cars come in and where they park. it's all very fancy, i never knew they could do this. i also wonder if it'd be easier to do with just cameras, but this way is more accurate, although i wonder how long these sensors last in our harsh new england climate (particularly the winter with the plowing).
i found out via reddit that level solar has gone out of business. this was one of the companies that came to talk to us when we were researching installers. they seemed like a legit outfit, huge presence in new york state, trying to branch out into massachusetts. they also had one of the highest numbers of good online reviews, but those can sometimes be misleading as costumers are given incentives for promoting the company. arthur was our agent, he was a really nice guy, but we disqualified level solar early on as they were primarily a solar lease company, and we wanted to own. they were also very limited with their panel selection in that they only used certainteed 285w, which explains why they had one of the cheapest quotes. it's scary how fast a solar company can go under. first it was direct energy solar and now level solar. things like workmanship warranties are meaningless when the installer disappears. the best you can hope for is a good manufacturer warranty in case a panel goes bad.
julie showed up around 5:40pm (driving in from concord), so we could have dinner in harvard square. the last time i saw her was more than 2 years ago, when we met at the boston marathon. we were also both at the boston marathon this year but just missed each other. ever since she moved to JP, i don't see her as much. i gave her a quick tour of the house, which she hasn't visited in many years (i want to say 5+ years). we walked to harvard square around 6pm, making a stop at my community garden. julie helped me take care of it back in the summer of 2013 when i left for china for a year. of course that was my old plot underneath the mulberry tree. i showed her my new plot. she has a community garden plot herself now, this being her 2nd season. not as sunny as her old plot back in somerville, but she's managed to grow all sort of stuff, from garlic to supertall echinacea. her theme for next season is wildflowers, and she bought a large bag of seeds to sow in the fall so they'll emerge come spring.
we ended up going to gyu-kaku for dinner. it was pretty packed with a young crowd. it didn't seem like we'd be able to get a table at first but the hostess asked us if we'd be able to finish in 1-1/2 hours and we said yes so we managed to get a corner booth. though not as much a bargain compared to their lunch specials, gyu-kaku did have some worthwhile course specials. we ended up getting the "harvard" special for 2 people which included: large gyu-kaku salad, 2 miso soup, spicy tuna volcano, steamed chili dumplings, sukiyaki bibimbap, toro beef sweet soy, pork belly white soy, shrimp garlic, assorted veggies, harami miso skirt steak, and some s'mores for dessert. all for the bargain price of $52. (japanese/korean barbecue usually is much more expensive).
julie told me on occasions she bikes in to work at concord from JP. at a distance of about 25 miles, it takes her 2 hours. the ride is so long she usually rides it one way, driving the other way in a bike-car switch.