i woke up a bit before 7:30am to get ready to go down to harvard square by 8am to catch the annual boston hub on wheels ride down storrow drive. there was of course nobody there when i got to the north harvard street bridge except some police officers who'd blocked off the street to prevent car traffic onto soldiers field road. using timestamp data from past photos, i had an idea when the riders would arrive, and when everything would end. i remember it's always been sort of foggy and cold, but this morning was actually quite sunny already and warm. the hub on wheels ride is probably more exciting riding then watching, but it's close to my house so not much effort to wake up and see. i had my 70-300mm telephoto lens looking for photo ops. i didn't contact julie beforehand but i just assumed she and chris would be riding and was happy to spot them and yell out my greetings when they went under the bridge. by 8:50am most of the riders had already passed. i rode home cutting across harvard square and harvard yard.
traveling to belmont, this was just my second time riding the motorcycle with the new windshield. it felt like i had a brand new bike, made me want to ride more the rest of the season. it was also my first time riding with the new windshield during the daytime. i didn't have to put up with scratched shield glare, the improved visibility was refreshing.
i ate some cold leftover rice porridge mixed with some pork floss. i discovered BBC's new thriller bodyguard yesterday and before even finishing the first episode i already downloaded all 4 existing episodes for my mother. she told me this is the kind of show she likes to watch. i also found chinese subtitles from the zimushe.com website. even though she can understand english, having the chinese allows her to follow the show 100%. especially this particular show, where the lead actor (richard madden) has a thick scottish accent that even i sometimes have a hard time understanding.
i helped my father take down the DBJ-1 antenna from the chimney so we could trim it to get better SWR numbers. the problem with antenna trimming is unless you hit it perfectly, you don't know when you have the best results until after you've past peak numbers, and by then the antenna is already trimmed to much and the only way to fix it is to redo the antenna. and that's exactly what happened. initially my father was testing the antenna indoors, but that's not an accurate condition, so he set up a mount outside in the middle of the lawn. he trimmed the antenna by 1/8" at a time. we saw the numbers coming down on the SWR meter. the best we got was 1.30 at 146 MHz, but my father kept trimming hoping to get even better numbers, but after that point the SWR increased instead of decrease, to the point where it's only slightly better than the original DBJ-1 antenna before we started trimming. we mounted it back onto the chimney thinking the elevation would improve the antenna but it actually made it worse. now the only way to fix it is to reattach a 17" section of AWG16 wire to the end of the antenna and then retrim it again.
our retired family friend 90+ years old mr.huang sees himself as a bit of an inventor and has been working on a perpetual motion machine for more than a decade. in fact, my father's first foray into solar energy was back in 2006, piggybacking a shipment of glass solar heating rods on mr.huang's chinese delivery of equipment and parts. that of course didn't go so well for my father, because the rods were so poorly packaged most of them were shattered by the time everything arrived, and the main hot water storage tank was completely missing. anyway, quite abruptly mr.huang announced that he was quitting his experimentation (not surprising, perpetual motion machines don't exist in real world conditions) and asked my father to come to his apartment and take whatever equipment or material we wanted, since he was getting rid of everything.
so my father and i left at 1:40pm, to the rindge apartment near alewife. i can't remember the last time i was here, must've been nearly 40 years ago, when my family first arrived in the US. i don't remember much, but i do remember there was a very distinctive apartment smell, of which now there was no trace of, as these apartments have been renovated all these decades later and are now much improved. the demographics have changed too, for whatever reason there seems to be a lot of eritrean immigrants living here.
besides mr.huang, his daughter and his lady friend were also in the apartment. the floor was covered in sawdust. the living room seemed to be where he'd built his contraption, now mostly disassembled and in parts. a smaller bedroom served as storage, with more materials and equipment. we figured he'd give us a few tools, but he was serious about getting rid of everything. whatever we didn't take, he'd probably throw out. there was a drill press, a benchtop sander, cordless drill, and various boxes of sockets and wrenches and drill bits. there was also a wooden panel mounted with about 100 LED lights, using for measuring energy. mr. huang told us earlier while taking apart his device, a heavy piece of equipment hit his shin and now it was all bruised up.
while were were piling up the equipment onto a homemade wheeled dolly, mr. huang's daughter fired up their imac. apparently they had an animated slideshow presentation to go along with the contraption mr.huang had built. in fact, he'd even secured a patent for the invention, but they wouldn't allow him to file paperwork for the perpetual motion aspect of the machine. much of the slideshow i wasn't sure what was being demonstrated, but i got the gist of it, that he'd somehow invented an engine that utilizes potential energy. the engine could be configured for various energy sources, whether wind/wave/water/manual.
it seemed very rudimentary yet at the same time just a concept as i don't think they actually managed to build this engine. what surprised me the most was the sheer enthusiasm everyone had for this project, which for me still sounded a lot like fantasy. it seemed father and daughter were working closely together in this endeavor, and even his lady friend was very passionate about what he was doing. although i don't believe in what they were building, i was impressed with their energy and passion. and how many people can say they own a patent on something?
we slowly moved everything downstairs, my father moving the car closer so we wouldn't have to carry it all. while he stayed with the car, i went back upstairs with the daughter and lady friend for one last time, this time to grab the drill press.
instead of going straight home, i suggested we fill the empty propane tank sitting in the trunk for the barbecue later today. the closest refill station was the medford uhaul on mystic valley parkway. after refilling, we finally returned home by 4:20pm. my mother was about finished watching all 4 episodes of bodyguard and was asking me when i could get the next episode (airing in the UK tonight).
we got back right in time for the start of the patriots-jaguars game. new england didn't seem to be playing very well, but i was confident they'd mount some sort of comeback later on. while that was happening, i was helping my father with the barbecue. this was our first time using the grill since cleaning out the burner tubes and installing brand new carryovers and ignition switch. it was way better than what we had before, but once the italian sausages when on the grill, the dripping fat would still cause flare ups, though nothing as bad as prior to our repairs. the grill also wasn't leveled, so the oil drips would run down one leg of the barbecue instead of into the grease catch cup. at the very least we could finally follow the grilling instructions for the ribs: grill (450°F) 15 minutes per side before cooking (barbecue, 350&def;F) on low heat. we couldn't do this in that past without the meat getting horribly charred from the high heat. this time around, the ribs were crispy on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside.
midway i noticed the grill temperature was dropping; turns out the existing propane tank ran out of fuel. luckily we caught it in time before it dropped too low. my father swapped it out with the newly refilled tank, but accidentally knocked over a small pyrex lasagna tray perched on the barbecue side shelf, which shattered into a million pieces onto the flagstone. fortunately pyrex trays are easy to come by, nothing that can't be replaced.
after a couple of ribs, a barbecued corn, and a sausage, i was already stuffed. for dessert my father and i finished the black mission figs i bought on saturday. already they were growing moldy, which i washed off in the sink. figs are weird: seemed the closer they are to being rotten, the sweeter they become.
riding home in the dark felt nice. the windshield definitely acts as a good windblock, yet at the same time the low height gives me an unobstructed view over the shield. since street cleaning is tomorrow, there was no parking to be had outside my house and i ended up parking 2 blocks away in my usual faraway spot.
i tried out the new moka pot gasket that arrived on saturday. it was a perfect fit. it also came with a replacement filter but the old one seemed okay so i kept it. i was tempted to brew a cup of espresso, but didn't knowing i wouldn't be able to sleep afterwards (i have low caffeine tolerance). i will definitely brew a cup tomorrow morning to try out the new gasket.
i spent the evening with the giants-cowboys sunday night football game playing in the background. dallas ended up beating new york, the giants didn't score a point until the 3rd quarter.