my sister called me at 6:36am, told me she was coming to pick me up at 7am. i had just enough time to get dressed, use the bathroom and pack up my things for a day of dogsitting. unlike yesterday, at least i'd gotten an extra hour of sleep, having gone to bed at 2am. as soon as i got dropped off in belmont, i went outside with the roof rake and the ladder to see if i could clean the snow off of the sunroom solar panels. i immediately regretted not cleaning the panels completely yesterday. there was a lot of melting yesterday but every frozen overnight. the snow that was on the roof had a sublayer of ice and a dense top layer of heavy wet snow with a frozen crust. there was nothing i could do at that point but wait until later, maybe the sun could soften some of that snow.

a house two doors down from us (the latest mcmansion on the block that was on the market for a very long time) was getting solar power this morning. i saw a bunch of contractors waiting outside the house. i noticed some of them was on the roof, and saw the sunbug solar sign on the van. i contacted sunbug solar back in may when i was doing my first round of solar installer shopping. i'm a little hazy as to what exactly happened to them, i never met with an agent, but somebody did send me an estimate after i provided him with some numbers. i never got back in touch with them which is my fault, but after contacting 9 different solar installers, sunbug solar was actually the 2nd most expensive though they were willing to install LG 330W (we ended up getting LG 335W panels).

i actually had a suspicion that home might be going solar last week when i noticed contractors on the roof. since it's a new house, they weren't there for a new roof, so the other option was solar. locationwise it's not bad, and since it's a mcmansion, it's taller than all the houses around it. the only problem is the house has a modern style with a flat roof instead of pitched, and what roof is available is small (the other flat area is a walkaround balcony, maybe they're going to install panels there as well). with flat roofs you need to pitch the panels themselves otherwise they just get buried in the winter when it snows and you always have to manually clean them off. that's sort of what we're doing now with our own solar install, but at least we have varying degrees of slant that snow do slide off on their own eventually (although we like to help out when we can).

today they only installed the racks; if they're working tomorrow they'll install the actual panels. i wanted to go out and ask them the specs for the system: what panels, what size. i saw the contractors spending a lot of time just shoveling the roof. they left by early afternoon.

there's not much to be done with dogsitting. i don't even have to walk hailey, just periodically let her outside to go to the bathroom in the backyard. usually she tells me, but i think it's because she wants to go out and either chase squirrels or have me throw snow at her. the rest of the time she's sleeping, sometime in the living room, sometime in my old bedroom. the most i have to do is if i end up staying late, i'll give her some dinner.

my parents got in touch with me via wechat video from their traditional-style beijing hotel room. i'm a little leary using a china app for personal communication. i'm usually not paranoid, but i assume everything we say is being recorded by the chinese government. i asked my father if the torguard VPN was working. he wasn't sure, but said some of his photos were uploaded to his google photo account, which is a good indicator that it worked (though google photos might not be blocked by the great firewall of china). they went to the forbidden city today, did so much walking their feet hurt and they took a nap and decided to skip dinner. tomorrow afternoon they take a high speed train to shenyang.

around 9:30am, with the sun shining outside, i decided to go out and check the solar panel snow condition. though the snow was still fairly dense, the ice shell was gone so i went to work. first, i cleared the front edge of the sunroom with the roof rake standing on the platform step ladder. i learn from yesterday's mistake that the front edge needs to be cleared in order for the snow avalanches to slide off. i was careful to only rake off the snow and not accidentally scratch the panels.

once that was done, i got on a ladder from the right side of the sun room and began working the snow on the lower edges of the panels first with the foam rake. pieces broke off, landing on the strip of roof i'd just cleared. i went back to the step ladder and cleared the snow again with the rake. now there was a portion of exposed panels on the lower edge, which acted like a slide. it got progressively easier to create snow avalanches, as i tapped on the snow with the foam rake. it was also somewhat strenuous, and i stripped off my jacket as i found myself getting sweaty from exertion. eventually the large sliding pieces of snow got enough speed they'd launch themselves off the roof without getting stuck. i also removed some snow from the side of the roof, there seems to be an uneven gap between the bottom layers of panels and the row directly above it, and it was easier to slide the snow sideways instead of straight down. occasionally i'd switch back to the step ladder to clear the snow stuck on the edges, but from that one side position alone and with the extending foam rake handle i managed to clear all the snow off of the sun room panels.

i then did a little touch up work on either side of the main room, where 1-2 panels were still partially covered in frozen hard snow. and with that i was done an hour later. by that point the sun had mostly disappeared, blocked by high-medium elevation clouds.

i don't know if i felt more pain this morning, i just felt them more sharply. yesterday i had aches i couldn't really locate, but today i could point them out. not too bad, nothing debilitating, and this may sound masochistic, but the pain makes me think i got some good exercise. now that i think about it, i do have some new pains. for one thing, my sternum hurts when i press on it, which is probably related to shoveling strain (i shovel left sided).

i cooked up a pot of instant xi'an yangruo paomo for lunch. when i told my parents earlier, they were leary, because it was an old package and most likely expired. but i'm all about eating expired food, though there was a lot of paomo and i tossed away the final few bites because i just couldn't eat anymore.

i was going to eat a lemon cookie from the opened box of girl scout cookies on the dining table until i noticed two dark mouse droppings. mice in the house! now that nobody's around, they've gotten bolder. my mother noticed droppings in the kitchen drawer, and today i saw some as well. it got me so grossed out i wanted to go out and buy a mousetrap. we got a victor electronic mousetrap last year, but it seemed to have disappeared (i think my father gave it to my sister but she said she never got it). it actually worked pretty well (we did catch a mouse) and i like that it's more humane than snap traps or sticky traps. i looked on the home depot website to see if they had any in stock and the one they carried didn't look like the one we got. apparently they upgraded the design. it now has a more trapezoid shape instead of rectangle, and the electronic half and the trap half can be separated.

while browsing the victor pest control website, i saw they had a new mousetrap. and here i thought the electronic mousetrap was the pinnacle of mouse trapping technology. no, they have something now called the victor smart-kill™ which is essentially an electronic mouse trap that will text/notify you when a mouse has been trapped. i was almost tempted to get one but it's 2.5x more expensive ($50). they're making it so that it's almost fun to kill mice, which is a little creepy (though i think the device is cool).

so i went down to the watertown home depot to buy a new mousetrap ($19.97). i also got: a pair of porcelain lamp holders with outlet ($4.28/each), before he left my father and i were talking about upgrading some of the basement lights so we can have extra outlets (there's a dearth of receptacles in the basement); made two copies of the cafe back door key ($1.97/each); and a pair of plastic bubble window well cover ($9.98/ each), the one next to the garage got trapped by contractors at some point (or maybe it was weather damaged).

sister's floor sanding and finishing

victor electronic mouse trap v2 (redesign):

porcelain lampholders:

chinese takeout for dinner:

thanks to my diligent solar panel snow removal maintenance and a little help from some unexpected strong bursts of afternoon sun, we managed to produce 17.85 kWh of electricity today, the 2nd most productive day in more than a week. the two nor'easters we've experienced put a damper on overall production. now the latest word is there might be yet another nor'easter due to arrive monday/tuesday. but tomorrow looks to be a sunny day, and with all panels cleared, i'm hoping to get some good production for a change.