i tested the 70cm ground plane antenna with my father in belmont. we tried it in the past, but with low-powered transceivers and poor antenna, and had forgotten what the results were, so this was a retest. there was zero activity on 2m, which is expected since the antenna is 70cm. on 70cm i could hit all the local 70cm repeaters: MIT, boston, weston, waltham hill. MIT and boston were clear, there was a little static on weston, and on waltham the display would light up indicating signal reception but i heard back nothing. i had the antenna jutting out the top of my living room window taped to a selfie stick. facing north towards my solar-powered neighbor, there was too much obstruction from the leafy locust tree, and reception wasn't as good as when i had the antenna pointing northeast through a better clearing. trying 70cm simplex, i could receive my father's more high powered transmissions but he could barely hear mine, just intermittent signals with a lot of noise. also, using just the stock antenna i can ping the MIT and boston repeaters loud and clear and my father can hear me fine from belmont.

after watering the front and back yard, i grabbed my things and motorcycled to the community garden to do some watering, leaving directly to belmont afterwards. i was surprised to find a few striped mallow flowers; this is just a sneak preview as i have plenty of plants so eventually my garden will just be covered with these flowers. there was also another gardener there, a woman whom i didn't recognize working one of the shady northwestern plots. neither one of us made an effort to say hello. she seemed to be doing some heavy duty terraforming, making frequent trips to the shed to gather different tools.

it was a hot and humid day, the sort of day that felt soupy and hard to breathe. that's why i opted to take the motorcycle, i would've been sweat soaked had in been bicycling. in belmont, the air conditioner, fan, and dehumidifier were all running. for lunch i had some cold sweet rice porridge with sweet potato and dates.

i convinced my father to drive down to the winchester mahoney's to look for possible remainder flowering cherry trees we might still be able to buy. unlike the last time we were there a month ago (also a monday), there was very little customers today.

most of their ornamental japanese maples were gone, but there were still a few left. there was one tall 7-8' specimen, 'red emperor,' that looked like it was on red fire sunlit from behind. the cost? $800, not factoring in the cost to hire a team to move and plant it. i also like the japanese maple 'golden full moon,' which have roundish maple leaves. the one that they had was already sold ($600 for a 4ft specimen) but the owner must've forgotten about it. they sold a bunch of peonies, all yellow, which my parents have only discovered this year and now can't seem to get enough of yellow peonies. these were itoh peonies 'bartzella,' a container costs $80 each.

i wasn't confident we'd find any kwanzan flowering cherries, but we actually saw three specimens. one of them was a 10 ft tree selling for $300; given the size, it didn't seem like a bad deal. unfortunately it was already sold, but like the maple i saw earlier, the owner must've forgotten about it to the point where it was already sending out suckers from the root balls and leafing out from the bottom as well. we did find another kwanzan of similar height and price, but the reason why it wasn't sold because it looked diseased (cracked bark). the third kwanzan we found was also available, but it was easily 15-20 ft, and the wind had toppled it to the ground. it was only $400 which seemed like a bargain, but the cost to transport/plant a tree of that size would easily double the price, so another reason why nobody wanted it. there were also a lot of yoshino cherries, but they have pale pink-white flowers which we don't like.

which checked out some of their other tree selection. we were particularly struck by the sweet bay magnolia, with lush white flowers that looked like they'd be very fragrant and they definitely didn't disappoint. the scent reminded me of tea flowers. my father wanted to get one, but wasn't sure if it'd survive our new england weather. we also saw a very good looking crabapple, 'sugar tyme.' it'd be worth getting except the flowers are white and we wanted a deep pink.

we wanted to ask somebody if they did any special tree order (like for a wintersweet). we asked two didn't clerks who didn't really know, but one of them referred us to their manager who was busy on the phone. we decided to leave without asking.

back at the house my father and i continued working in the backyard. while watering the garden, i flushed out a bunny. together with my father we managed to drive it out of the backyard but we had to chase it all over the yard, from the west side to the south out to the east side.

my mother didn't want to cook so we went to get some takeout from burger king. when we tried to get into the store from the back, the door was locked with a sign. apparently they were closed except for the drive-thru. no reason why, but my father figured they were understaffed (maybe some employees didn't come in to work) and only had enough workers to manage the drive-thru. instead of making an order, my father drove directly to the pickup counter. the employee told us we had to go back and order from the menu station. fortunately there weren't any cars and we were able to backup. what was supposed to be a quick trip ended up taking a lot longer.

back at the house i quickly ate my whopper so i could rush home and beat the incoming torrential rainstorm. i got home just in the nick of time, under a canopy of dark ominous clouds and strong winds. it did rain eventually, but nothing like the downpours that the doppler radars were showing.

my refurbished 1TB western digital external hard drive ($30) arrived today (waiting on the doorstep). i reformatted it so i could use it as my time machine backup. it took 4 hours to copy the time machine data from the old 2TB drive to new 1TB drive, from 9pm to 1am.