my sister texted me while i was in the bathroom this morning, asking if i wanted to go to ikea because she needed to buy a light and that my mother would call me for more details. i had no interest in going, surprised at the last minute with an invitation. besides, it'd be raining all day, and the idea of driving on the highway seemed dangerous. when my mother called, she was able to persuade me to go. i had my own motives, wanted to go to check out the lights and see if they had any dim LED bulbs for the porch lamps.

i quickly squeezed a fresh bottle of orange juice before my sister came to pick me up around 11am. i didn't recognize her car (a large cadillac sedan with rhode island plates), a rental while her regular car is in the shop after getting rear-ended. while my mother described as "just a drizzle" was a fairly steady rain shower with some fogging. after stopping in belmont to drop off hailey and pick up my mother, we left for stoughton 33 miles away.

somewhere in randolph we passed by a nearby hill where my mother spotted a solar farm. i've never seen a solar farm of that size here in massachusetts (although i have seen a large solar farm in lumberston new jersey). apparently this used to be a town dump that was covered over and turned into a brownfield site. a lot of former dumps are now being converted to solar farms to generate revenue. this particular property is owned by republic services (formerly BFI) and built and managed by soltage LLC of delaware. it consists of 14,544 polycrystalline solar panels that can generate 4.5 mW of electricity. that's about 560x more energy than our own solar installation.

my sister thought it might not be too busy since it was spring vacation week, and when we first arrived it didn't seem that bad even though there were still a lot of cars in the parking garage. we even managed to find in a spot in the family parking lot right next to the entrance, which i thought we were forbidden to do because by "family" they meant with small children.

it goes without saying that my mother and sister intended to eat first at the cafeteria before shopping. a few favorites were not on the menu today, like their ribs. i picked the salmon wrap and chicken tender with fries which i intended to share. i thought that was already a lot of food until i saw what my mother and sister picked out: meatball pasta, salmon salad, bacon salad, swedish meatballs, hash browns, and a blueberry cheesecake.

i can eat raw salmon, but it has to be mixed in with other ingredients so i don't taste the raw fishiness, which i don't like. the chicken tender with fries was okay, but a bit excessive. i had no interest in the penne, having eaten so much rigatoni over the past week. the blueberry cheesecake was surprisingly good, i forgot how much i missed cheesecake. the really good thing was the ikea hash browns, which i later discovered are called grönsakskaka, swedish vegetable medallions a combination of potato, broccoli, leek, onions and cheese. my sister said she'd always seen people getting it and wanted to try them herself.

while we ate i watched through the window as a continuous convoy of cars made their way to store. despite the rain, despite the school vacation week, it'd be a crowded day here at ikea. after we finished (a young boy quickly ran to our empty table the moment we left), my sister went to go put the leftover food back in the car while my mother and i went to go use the bathroom. unfortunately it was under renovation, and the only bathroom that was opened was the family bathroom, and there was already a line of parents with children and strollers. a sign said there were additional bathrooms downstairs.

the downstairs bathrooms seemed to be employee bathrooms, just a single room. a guy was coming out when i got there, shaking his head. "the toilet," he began to say but then paused, "you'll see. it was like that when i got here." i locked the door and saw what he meant: a clogged toilet, full of urine and toilet paper and crap, and for some reason there was also crap smeared along the rim of the bowl. i used it (i've urinated in worse conditions) then tried to flush and nearly overflowed the toilet. coming out, there was already a line of people (a cafeteria that seats hundreds but only one usable bathroom nearby? first world hate crime). i said pretty much what the previous guy said to me, about the clogged toilet and how i found it that way. the guy took a look and noped right out of there. my mother was more successful, the single women's bathroom wasn't as disgusting and more usable than the men's. when my sister came back she wanted to use the bathroom before we told her the bad news. she said she could hold it for the time being, until we found another bathroom further inside the showroom.

my mother insisted on carrying some bags she wanted to buy. i told her after we circled the showroom we'd be back and she could pick up her bags then, but she didn't want to. so she carried them with her. fortunately there were convenient large ikea tote bags she could use, but nothing says newbie like somebody carrying merchandise in the showroom when they can find all that stuff downstairs (so i thought).

i didn't realize ikea sells induction cooktops (1800W $45). they look pretty slick and inexpensive, and we almost bought one, except 1) it's more rectangular instead of square (why it's designed longer than most induction cooktops is a mystery), and 2) at that price we can buy an induction cooker online that comes with a pot. i was happy to see ikea still sells their owl puppet (i got one for sunmeng when we went to the chongqing ikea with wangyan). ikea almost sells bike equipment: reflectors, locks, even a snazzy bike helmet ($24). it seems unusual unless you know that ikea also sells bikes (though i don't think it's available in the US). in the light department they were selling 400 lumens LED bulbs for 99¢ (higher lumen bulbs were more expensive, a few dollars at least); i should've gotten some, but i was hoping to find some with even lower brightness (i'd forgotten that a typical 60W equivalent bulb has 800 lumens). my sister found a suitable pendant light after we talked her into not getting the light that uses special bulbs. at their discontinued/remainder/returned department, i found a hemma cord set for $4 (discounted from $6) that i'm going to use to make a DIY lowel ego light (i already have a hemma but not sure where it is).

we finally left ikea a little bit after 4pm. it was still rainy as we made our way back to belmont. i sat anxiously in the backseat, feeling like we were heading into a highway crash at any moment, whether from rear ending the car in front of us, or getting side swiped from some aggressive driver that didn't see us. by the time we made it back it was almost 5pm. my sister took her dog and left. i stayed for dinner, where i got a ride back home afterwards.

i got a chance to test out whether or not the tp-link tether app can remotely access my tp-link router. at first i tried it on my iOS but it didn't work so i thought maybe because i forgot to register the router on this phone. later i tried it on my android, which i knew worked last night, but it wasn't working now. that meant the tether app only recognizes the router when it's actually connected to it via wifi. it's not the same remote access as my sister's RT-AC68U asus router, which actually can be managed remotely.

when i got home i found my other henna light cord. now i have two, which will allow me to make 2 DIY lowel ego lights.