it's been a week since my last garden visit, and that was just to take a peek at the garden. the last time i worked in the garden? can't even remember, close to forever. i grabbed one of the empty bins (most were full, apparently a lot of other gardeners have been winterizing their plot) and pulled up all my tomatoes and eggplants. i also pulled up the thai basil, now just stem skeletons completely devoid of leaves. i also pulled up a few dead pepper plants, but leaving the habaneros, which actually produced a few more peppers, and seem to be still surviving despite the cold nights. in fact, we haven't had a killing frost in cambridge yet, though the end of this week looks to be pretty cold and i except more plants to die. i pulled the squash, which never did produce any zucchinis due to how late i planted the seeds and the overall lack of sun. incredibly, the striped mallows are still flowering, at the end of bare stalks. even better, many of their seedlings have germinated in the soil and i can expect plenty more striped mallows for next season, maybe even transplanting a few to other gardens.
back at home, li left around 11am for weekend badminton. that gave me a little bit of time to enjoy the house by myself. i was going to make breakfast, but got lazy and figured i'd find something to eat at my parents' place. i left around 12:30pm via motorcycle.
patriots have a bye week so there was no new england game this sunday. instead i watched in the background ram-vs-giants and eagles-vs-broncos, both games ending in blowouts where the winning team scored 51 points (los angeles and philadelphia). the eagles seem pretty legit with an 8-1 record, but about a half of their victories were against bad teams (giants, 49ers, chargers, broncos). they have a bye next week, and the rest of their schedule looks to be easy, if they can handle division rival cowboys in 2 games, but they have a pretty good shot at getting a playoff bye.
when my father came home in the afternoon he thought of something that could be affecting our ground-plane antenna (GPA) reception: the insulated thermoplastic coating cover the 4 ground plane copper wires. what if they could somehow be inhibiting the reception (but not the transmission)? we looked online for photos of DIY GPA's, most had bare wires, but that was more due to the nature of the material and not because they specifically chose bare wires. we still weren't sure but it was worth a try, and we couldn't think of any other reasons why the GPA didn't transmit and receive with equal power.
my father had to return to the cafe briefly because my grand uncle had a bathroom emergency. afterwards we tested the 2m GPA, just to confirm the transmission/reception issue. he could hear me just fine from the cafe (about 1-1/2 miles away), but when he tried to transmit, i received nothing, not even a hint of reception.
earlier my father had stripped the smaller 70cm/430MHz GPA. we went outside and removed the 2m GPA from the bamboo pole. we taped the 70cm CPA onto the pole before bringing in the 2m for stripping.
we had an early dinner around 5pm, getting some takeout from nearby burger king. an old man was making a scene, complaining that the shake machine was temporarily out of order, saying that he's never going to come back, and asking for the name of the employees and the phone number of their manager, thought admitting it wasn't the employees fault that the machine was broken. it was funny and annoying at the same time, those employees were well-trained to not chew him out, since i nearly yelled at the man.
my mother skyped us from the taipei hospital where she was staying with my grandmother. my grandmother did not look good, her face still bruised from her fall, not saying anything to us, in a seemingly catatonic state, though my mother said she gets very chatty later in the evening. despite having so many children and grand children, none of them have the time or the will to take care of her full time (though they do come and visit, but only my mother is staying by my grandmother's side 24/7). i personally think my grandmother is partially faking her condition to milk sympathy, like how she insists on riding the wheelchair when she visits us even though she can walk just fine.
i tested the 70cm ground-plane antenna on my way home. i pulled over by glacken field, about a straight line distance of about 1/2 mile (765m). we tried first communicating with the baofeng stock antenna, where we could still here each other but there was a lot of static. then my father switched to the 70mm GPA, and the reception was significantly better. unlike the 2m GPA we tried yesterday, this 70cm GPA can both transmit and receive just fine (could the wire stripping really help?). i then rode a little bit further, to the intersection of reservoir and huron, 1.34 miles (2.15km). even there we could hear each other just fine, though there was some static. when i finally got home - a straight line distance of 2.47 miles (nearly 4km) across several hills - i could hear my father if i stand outside the house, but only with 20% clarity and 80% static. he however can't hear me at all, except for some static transmission. if i go inside the house, transmission is completely dead, and i can't receive him either. tomorrow we'll do a test between the cafe and my house using the baofeng and our nagoya/retevis whip antennas (a straight-line distance of about 1 mile or 1.67km).