i woke up to the news that stephen hawking had passed way. that how my day started, with more snow to shovel outside. i began about 8:30am, happy to see that someone with a snowblower had altruistically plowed the sidewalk. so now all i had to do was dig out the car and clear the driveway. a few neighbors were outside shoveling as well. i saw our next door neighbor and we both shrugged and laughed. the driveway was easy to clear, but the part leading out onto the street was buried in more than 2 feet of snow courtesy of the snowplow truckers. digging that out manually would be too much work. so i pulled out the car enough so i could get into the garage and take out the big snowblower. i always have hard time starting it and today was more of the same. prime it, choke it, pull the ripcord, nothing worked. i ended up going inside and bringing out the extension cord. i managed to start the engine and clear several feet of snow before the machine sputtered to a stop. eventually i got it working, the trick is to not turn on the choke despite what the instruction said. with the snowblower working, clearing the snow was actually kind of fun. especially this particular machine, which is more industrial strength with a metal auger compared to the one at the cafe which just uses a rubber paddle.
it took me an hour to finish the front of the house before i moved onto the back (9:30am). up until this point i hadn't even been in the backyard, just enough to clear the snow off of the back steps last night. i assumed the panels were buried under thick snow so i dug a trench to the step ladder so i could climb it and get a good look. i then dug more trenches to either side of the sunroom so i could set up the ladder. i didn't start clearing the roof until 10am. the first step was to use a roof rack and clear the snow from the lower edges of the roof. this is important to allow the snow from the panels to eventually slide off the roof unobstructed. i then climbed up the ladder with the foam rake on the left (west) side of the sunroom. it looked daunting, there was so much snow, so thick that the foam rake couldn't make any progress, neither push or pull the mound of snow on the panels. i managed to clear a few lower panels on the main roof, but i was running out of time, because the comcast technician was arriving at my sister's place between 12-2pm, and i had to be there.
by that time my sister was back in belmont after picking up her car which had been safely garaged at the alewife parking lot. she would've been here sooner but realized when she got to alewife she forgot her car key, so had to go back home and get them. the plan was to go to my sister's place and wait for comcast to arrive (she also needed to clean up her room). after they fixed the problem, she'd take me back to my place so i could check if i needed to shovel my sidewalk, and so i could grab a few things (change of clothes, medication). then she'd drive me back to belmont, where i'd be dogsitting hailey for the night while my sister went out. this would give me time to clear more of the snow from the roof.
so i waited at my sister's place while my sister left with hailey. her dog couldn't be at home when the technician came because she wouldn't stop barking. we got a little freaked out initially because there was a comcast van parked outside the house when we arrived but then later left. i didn't think nothing of it, but when i checked the appointment information, the number they were calling was my father's number. so i had to call comcast and get them to update the number. according to their app (which i downloaded), the appointment was still on time, between 12-12:30pm, but then later changed to 1:00-1:30pm. all i could do was wait around, with no internet and busted tv reception. i saw on the news that patriots offensive tackle nate solder had signed a four-year $62 million with the new york giants. once again, i can't blame the guy, but it seems like so many people are leaving now, i wonder if the team will be any good next year.
the comcast technician showed up around 1:15pm. i saw the van pulled up in front of the house and i went outside to greet him, just in case he tried calling the wrong number. after checking the coaxial cable for signal strength (weak), he replaced the line. the utility pole was in an awkward spot, wedged between several properties, hidden in an evergreen tree. i showed a path so he could get in with his ladder. he climbed up and replaced the coaxial. he told me that squirrels had chewed through the cable. it might've worked if it had time to dry out, but water had gotten inside, which was causing the weak signal strength. besides the cable, he also replaced the splitter. once that was done, i went inside to check the cablemodem and saw it was working again, all the proper lights were on. it took a few more minutes for the router to fire up to see that wifi was working too. i called my sister to let her know she could come back to the house.
after the comcast technician left, i ran speedtest out of curiosity. i was shocked to see speeds approaching 60Mbps. did a new coaxial cable really make that much of a difference? it seemed suspicious, so i went online to see if comcast had bumped up their internet speed limit. sure enough, as of last week, comcast increased their internet speeds across the northeast. our "performance" tier of 25 Mbps is now 60 Mbps. i just happened to notice it because we had to reset the cablemodem. unfortunately upload speed is still not in parity, preventing customers from doing things like setting up a viable personal cloud server.
when my sister came back, she was shoveling snow in her backyard. i kept telling her i wanted to leave, because i still had to go back to my own place, but she didn't seem to be in a hurry. finally i got so angry i screamed, "I'M GOING HOME NOW!" and ran out of her place. if i had to i would walk home. you have to keep in mind that up to that point i hadn't eaten or drank anything, and it was already 2pm. i was so hangry it was making me crazy. my sister said she didn't hear me but i didn't believe her. in the end she did give me a ride to my house, where i was surprised to see the sidewalk was nicely shoveled. i shoveled away the snow around my furnace vents then went inside the house to grab a few things before we left again.
next we went to the burger king on concord avenue, where i bought a 2 whopper meal with fries and drinks, something for lunch, and something for dinner. my sister didn't get anything because of her gluten allergy, but earlier she'd bought some middle eastern food. we finally arrived in belmont sometime after 3pm. my sister ate her moroccan chicken tagine, me with my whopper. i ate that whopper in under 30 seconds. i would've eaten the second whopper as well but i was saving that for later.
i rested for a few minutes, enough to catch my breath, before i went back outside to clear the snow from the solar panels. despite the overcast, temperature was in the 40's and there was considerable melting today. what little snow i cleared from the panels earlier this morning had melted and slide off the roof, free about 6-7 panels. i worked the roof with the foam panel, but the snow was just too dense. tired, soaked, i decided to call it a day, and continue working on it tomorrow morning.
even though a lot of panels were buried in snow, the inverter still managed to recognize 16 of the 24 panels. hopefully there would be some more melting with the few hours of daylight left today. but i knew tomorrow i would be climbing the roof since that was the only feasible way to clear all that snow.
maybe it happened a few days ago, but i noticed it right away when my sister called me while i was outside digging out a backyard path this morning: i couldn't hear her when i answered the phone until i put it in speaker mode. that's when i realized that my phone was stuck in headphone mode. it's a common problem with iphones, it either means there's some obstruction in the headphone jack or water got into the jack to damage it. so when we stopped by my place briefly so i could pick up my pills and a change of clothes, i also grabbed my can of CRC 5103 quick dry electronic cleaner spray.
in belmont, i sprayed the headphone jack with some compressed air but that didn't seem to do anything. i then turned off the phone and sprayed the jack with some electronic cleaner spray. when i rebooted the phone, it was still stuck in headphone mode. i began to think the iphone was broken for real and started imagining myself with a new phone. maybe one with a bigger screen for my aging eyesight. definitely android. maybe a samsung? but then i tried one more thing: i misted a q-tip with some cleaner spray and gently inserted it into the headphone jack and swabbed out the inside. i then tried out the volume toggle and my phone was back to normal. iphone fixed!
hailey waking up at midnight to drink some water before i let her outside (where it was snowing again) to use the bathroom
i've been jumping from places to places within the past 48+ hours that i'm starting to forget where i am and what day it is.