sandy e-mailed me this morning, said she got her visa, asked for my phone number. i hadn't heard from her in a few weeks and was maybe hoping she wouldn't come after all. her i don't mind; it's her baggage, including a boyfriend who will be staying here for a month as well. even though i made her pay extra, i still don't think it's enough. january is going to suck hard as i'll be trapped in the house with him while she's off at work.
li's wife was returning to shanghai today after a month doing research here in cambridge. i wrote him an e-mail saying farewell to her. i saw them leave on one of the wyze alert videos when they left the apartment around 10am. li himself has another month left before he goes back to china for good as well.
i made scrambled eggs (2 eggs + milk) and smoked pork kielbasa for lunch along with a mug of aeropress coffee. the caffeine made me antsy afterwards, maybe buy decaf next time, though coffee without caffeine feels wrong and artificial. i cooked the kielbasa in the toaster oven but it only seemed to warm it up at best, with none of that charred goodness that comes from pan frying or grilling.
i cut the power and removed the bathroom sconce again to inspect it and see if i need to pay $13 for a replacement transformer. despite the new soldered wires, the halogen bulb still seems a little off, like maybe it's not as bright, or flickering in such a way that i can perceive it directly but can sense something is wrong. just as i noticed before, the hot and neutral wires from the transformer seemed exposed, though i couldn't tell if they were frayed.
typically this might warrant a replacement, but here's something else i noticed: i put heat shrink around the wires, so if these wires were really going bad, they would generate heat, and the heat will reduce the heat shrink. but the shrink sleeves are still loose, which makes me think the problem is elsewhere. that elsewhere can only be the halogen bulb. i noticed when i removed the bulb on saturday that it had scorch marks. whether that was caused by the bulb itself or something with the lamp i don't know, but replacing it would be the next step. i ended up ordering 4 plusrite JC GY6.35 12V bi-pin 50W xenon light bulbs off of ebay ($7.49). i've used these in the past and i've found them to be pretty good. perhaps it's just the different between halogen versus xenon (brighter) that i'm seeing.
in the afternoon i made some bike errands. it was cold enough that the roads were caked in white frost, a combination of moisture from the melted snow and the city road crew's salt treatment. to their credit, they also sprinkled rock salt on the cycle track, though it made for a crunchy ride. it didn't take long for my wheels to turn white from the salt accumulation, a reminder that winter riding is terrible for all types of vehicles. it was cold, sure, but not as bad as i'd thought, and at least i was warm underneath my layers.
i went to rite aid first to pick up my prescriptions. because i have to go every 30 days, i've gotten to know all the pharmacists. "see you next time!" she said as i left the store. next i went to market basket, got some ingredients for dinner where i planned on making some spaghetti.
i did a quick clean and water change of my aquarium. i noticed some slime algae and some hair algae, two problems i thought i solved by introducting more plants and fish, but they seemed to have come back, although in a very small amount for the time being. what's changed in the tank chemistry that's causing these algae to return? but in the meantime i have to keep vigilant about more frequent cleaning and water changes.
while lounging on the couch in the evening, i suddenly smelled a fart. as there was nobody else around, i thought maybe it was me, and sniffed around my clothes, looking for the source. it started to get weird, and i wondered if i was having a smell hallucination or maybe a ghost had farted in the house. only when i got up did i realize the source: the jar of sichuan paocai fermenting by the doorway! paocai farts are normal, and it's a sign that the vegetables are properly fermenting. it's only been 6 days, i like to give it another week before we can start eating it.
i made my simple spaghetti with meat sauce for dinner. the sauce is simple: sautÃ© some chopped onions and garlic, add a pound of ground beef cook until no longer red, add in a whole jar (24 oz) of tomato sauce (i personally prefer the classico brand sauces). i don't even need to add any salt, all the flavor comes from the tomato sauce itself. the ground beef imparts an indescribable savoriness to the sauce. there's a lot of sauce recipes out there, but this one is tried and true and i can cook it up fast. it nice for the winter, very hearty, load up on the carbs, feel very full afterwards.