i love product tracking. the more detailed the better. like how sometimes amazon has tracking down to the GPS level and the location of the delivery van and your position on the delivery schedule. with that in mind, i checked the status of my canon 80D camera. it left hampton, VA last night and then arrived and left hagerstown, MD this morning.

once again, annie was still home this morning by the time i woke up. she finally left by 9:30am. she said i could try the ice cream she made last night, even though it had already froze solid.

i went to the canon refurbished camera website again and noticed they had some new EOS 80D bundle deals. a refurbed 80D plus an EF-S 18-55mm IS STM and an EF-S 55-250mm IS STM lens, all for just $700. that's $20 cheaper than what i paid for a camera body alone. but i rationalized it as i didn't need those lenses. besides, i should've never visited the refurbed website after i already paid for my camera, who knows what kind of cheaper deals might spring up in the coming days.

while using the bathroom (i always get my best ideas on the toilet) i realized i could do this: return the 80D camera body and see if i could score the 80D plus lenses bundle. even if i were to pay for return shipping on the camera body, it'd still be a bargain since the 80D plus lenses was worth more. true, i might not need those lenses, but given that i'd be paying about the same, it made sense to get the bundle. those lenses were STM, which a new near silent focus mechanism good for videography, so it'd be nice to play with regardless.

so i called the canon upgrade program number, spoke with angela again, the agent i got yesterday. angela was super nice and super polite, all with a touch of virginia accent. i told her the situation, she understood exactly what i wanted to do. she first cancelled the first order, gave me a return authorization number. even better, she was able to get in touch with fedex and issue a "return to sender" order so i didn't even need to pay for shipping, as the package automatically returned back to them. finally, she put in the order for the bundle. i didn't even bring it yet, but she automatically gave me the 10% upgrade program discount so i only ended up paying $630 before taxes.

the final cost came out to be $670, which was actually $20 cheaper than what i paid yesterday for the 80D camera body alone. so rechecking the refurb website turned out to be the right thing to do, as well as calling them to ask for a camera upgrade upgrade. instead of arriving tomorrow, the camera bundle will get here on friday, so it's only delayed by a day. i'll still get a chance to play with it over the weekend. the refund on my original purchase will take 7-10 days to process, but i have enough credit on my card to cover that.

i seem to know a lot about the canon 80D from all the research i did yesterday, but i wasn't too familiar with the two lenses that come with the bundle: the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM and EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM. i ended up spending some time familiarizing myself with these two new additions to my canon lenses collection.

the default kit lens that typically comes with a canon APS-C DLSR is the EF-S 18-55mm. i actually have two already, one that came with my rebel XT, another one that i bought used on craig's list ($70) to replace the original 18-55mm after i had it repaired in kunming china and thought it suffered a soft focus issue. this new EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM has some features missing from my original kit lens. for one thing, it has image stabilizing (IS). it also had STM focusing, which is the near silent focusing designed for shooting videos. i learned there's a newer iteration of the EF-S 18-55mm, the f/4-5.6 IS STM. unlike the former lens which you can get brand new for $79, the f/4-5.6 IS STM costs $250. glass-wise it's the same, but the latter version is shorter in length and has internal focusing so the front of the lens doesn't rotate (good for polarizing filters). it's kind of expensive for what it is, since for $50 more you could simply upgrade to a 3rd party 17-50mm lens with f/2.8 (sigma or tamron). but the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM might come in handy if i ever want to do any videography.

i have two telephoto zoom lenses already: the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM and the EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (some would classify this as a standard zoom). so i really didn't need another zoom lens. i used to carry the 70-300mm all the time before i got the 18-200mm which became my everyday carry lens. sure, i'm losing 100mm of reach, but what i lack in zoom i make up for in versatility and wide angle. the only good thing about the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM is the STM focusing, good for shooting videos. the lens costs $299, but amazon sells no warranty international version of the lens for just $134 and i see some bundles that include the lens and some accessories for around $150. it's probably going to be one of my least used lenses, but i look forward to playing with it.

ever since my father showed me the photo of the damaged lotus barrel, i knew had to go back to belmont to see for myself. as it wasn't going to rain today, i took the opportunity to ride my motorcycle to my parents' place. before i left, i took out the old lotus seeds from my tall glass jar, they've been soaking for over 2 weeks with no additional development other than a stunted green sprout, so i'm pretty sure they're rotten. i left the seeds outside, hoping that some critters might make a meal of them. later i did see a female cardinal come to investigate, but even she realized they were bad and dropped the seed from her beak.

after scaring away two large rabbits hanging out on the front lawn and bringing in all the trash bins, i went out back to check on the lotus. 24 hours later the barrel was still cloudy with clay. i decided to drain the barrel and refill it with fresh water. i carefully took out the 3 smaller pots filled with clay and sand. everything had mixed together so i couldn't tell what was sand and what was clay. just like my father said, only the larger lotus was alive. he replanted the smaller lotus, but it had detached from the seed and wasn't going to survive. the seed also looked like it was chewed up, which makes me think it wasn't a bird that fell into the barrel but rather a squirrel.

feeling around the bottom of the murky barrel there was more clay on the bottom. i scooped out the water into a large garden refuse bin, figuring given enough time it might finally settle and clear. once the barrel was empty of water, i rinsed it out with the hose and refilled it again. as for the smaller grow pots, i filled them back up with clay, and added a new layer of sand (about an inch) on top to keep the clay with leaching into the water. after that i put the 2 grow pots into the reserve barrel, adding some bricks in the water so the pots don't tip over. finally i replanted the surviving lotus. examining the base, there was already a long 2nd stalk and the beginning of a 3rd. there also seems to be some emerging roots. part of the seed looked rotten, but so much of the lotus had already grown that i think it will soon outgrow the seed.

i added some amquel+ chlorine remover and a few sprinkle of mosquito bits into the fresh barrel. once the water warms up to outdoor temperature, i'll move the lotus pots back into this barrel. finally i covered both barrels with some chicken wires to keep out critters. this will work for now, but once the lotus has developed 4 coin leaves it will start making aerial leaves and the chicken wire won't work anymore. we'll cross that hurdle when it comes.

i left by 2:30pm, taking the dremel tool with me. my new lotus seeds will arrive tomorrow, and instead of scarifying them with the plier cutters, i'm going with a gentle touch and breaking the hard lotus seed shells by sanding them down.

while parking my bike, i bumped into the retired fireman. we chatted for a while, talked about the increase in traffic due to all the various bridge constructions, no good place to ride the motorcycle, and the annoyance of people texting in cars. later i put the cover on the honda as it's expected to rain much of tomorrow (thursday) and friday.

i wasn't expecting it but the lotus seeds actually arrived today. i saw a box on my doorstep when i looked out the window around 5:30pm. i wasted no time in preparing these seeds. using a sand paper barrel attachment on the dremel tool, i sanded the dimple end of the lotus seeds until i saw a tiny bit of brown (inner layer) and white (seed layer). the thinking goes maybe last time i removed too much of the seed shell, those exposing the delicate inner seed layer to bacteria. this time around, i'd only make the tiniest of openings, and hopefully that will keep the seeds from rotting, and hopefully have more germination success. i've also read that you can sand the seeds on the side, that so long as you break through the outer shell and allow some water to get inside, the seed will soften and germinate. another way is to simply crack the seed with a gentle tap of a hammer, but that seems unpredictable. the majority of the methods i've read about was to penetrate the seed on the dimple end.

after i finished sanding down the seeds, i dropped them into a jar of warm water. 4 seeds floated to the top, which typically means they're not viable (kind of a false advertising when 40% of the seeds are dead on arrival), but i also read that some people still had success in germinating floating seeds, so i left them alone. other thing i'm doing differently is i'm not going to use the aquarium heater. i think too much heat makes the lotus grow faster but also the bacteria as well. besides, in the 2+ weeks since i germinated the first batch of lotus seeds, it's gotten warmer such that the room temperature inside my house is already 78°F. the heater still might come in handy come early autumn, when the lotuses might need a water temperature boost to extend the growing season. i'm also not going to squeeze the seeds to check if there's a sprout on the inside. i think that causes water to get into the seeds which increases the chance of the seeds rotting.

i received e-mail from canon around 5pm with news that my canon 80D bundle had shipped with a fedex tracking number. it's scheduled to arrive sometime on friday, i hope earlier than later because i don't want to be waiting at home all day (signature required, should've sent it to the cafe). later in the evening when i checked product tracking on my previous body only purchase, i saw it had arrived in willington, CT at 6:30pm. that's when it also received new shipping instructions to return to sender: "Shipper requested shipment to be returned - Unable to deliver shipment - Returning to shipper Recommended action: No action is required. The package is being returned to the shipper."

today was a weird split day. it was very dark in the morning - production didn't even reach 2kW - but by the afternoon the sun sort of broke out a bit and we had a few peaks. the final production was 26.42kWh, okay given the circumstances, but i'm beginning to worry that we won't set the single month production record, especially when we're not getting strings of 40kWh+ days. this weekend plus monday will be good though, i'm predicting 50kWh+ per day, for a 3-day total of 150kWh+.

annie came home exactly at 8pm, which was actually the time she told me yesterday she'd be back. she already had dinner (i didn't ask where). i had to politely ask her not to stir my non-stick pots with a metal utensils, as i noticed she'd nearly scraped off all the coating from my smallest pot. she said she noticed that as well (but why didn't she say anything?). i'll need to buy new pots once she leaves. so roommates have damaged my cookware that i can no longer have nice things anymore. but it's happened so much that i've become pretty chill about it, almost expect it. i gave her some cream puffs but she said she didn't have much of an appetite and asked to save them until tomorrow. i was just about to make some raviolis for dinner. i ate while watching the red sox - twins game.

after a few hours of soaking i noticed the lotus seeds had already softened up, which is remarkable, because they were rock hard before. some even softened to the point where they ruptured the outer shell, i take that as a good sign given how i only barely sanded off a tiny bit from the seeds. the thing i also noticed is none of the seeds were bubbling like i saw with my previous batch. when a lotus seed bubbles too much, it means it's decomposing.

later in the evening i noticed the water was turning slightly brown: that's normal, that just tannin being released from the seed cases. tannin makes the water more acidic, which supposedly keeps the bacteria in check.