i did the first water change of my new batch of lotus seeds. a little more than 12 hours since i soaked them yesterday evening, the seeds are still surprisingly hard, including the ruptured shells. i was kind of expecting them to feel soft. it makes me wonder if i should've sanded them bit more, but i can't sand them again now, only thing left to do is stay the course, hope for the best. it's still early, my first lotus sprout wasn't until after 2-3 days of soaking. of the 4 floating seeds, 2 of them sank back down to the bottom, so maybe they're still good.

i don't know why but i'm still tracking my old canon 80D camera body package. i guess the sooner it gets back to canon, the sooner i can get my refund. for some reason instead of returning to hampton, VA, it's getting rerouted to aurora, IL. it left willington, CT early this morning. as for my canon 80D lens bundle, it arrived in hagerstown, MD late last night and left this morning, supposedly to willington, CT. based on how the previous package was routed, it will arrive in connecticut around 6-8pm. i also found out that the commercial refrigerator won't get delivered to the cafe until next monday-tuesday, which means i can be home all day tomorrow to wait for my camera delivery. i've also been checking the status of my EF-S 18-200mm; as of this morning, it was still undergoing repairs. fortunately i have some other lenses to play with.

there was a period late this morning when we had some torrential downpours. remembering that my panasonic lumix ZS40 has a slow-motion video option, i shot some 480p 240fps and 720p 120fps videos of the rain. afterwards i went out and moved the recycle bins in renee's alleyway because the dripping from our leaky gutters was like chinese water torture.

i went to star market around noontime to get some groceries: greek yogurt, frozen raviolis, fruit juice, veggie stix snacks. i returned home and had a strawberry yogurt for lunch. my sister stopped by briefly to drop off some soft pretzels.

canon said they would return my broken 60D camera body, and when i check the status of the camera, it says, "the service on your product has been completed and shipped." but they never sent me a tracking number and i just wanted to make sure they were returning the camera instead of recycling it for parts. so i called canon factory service center. the first person i got - richard - put me on hold so he could check on the whereabouts of my used camera. he came back without any answers, but told me typically on a repair upgrade they keep the old broken camera and use it for spare parts. but i specifically given the option of either recycling or keeping the camera, and i choose to keep it. i then told richard that i cancelled the initial upgrade camera in order to score a better deal. we both came to the conclusion that maybe the old camera was boxed with the upgrade camera. unfortunately that package was returning to canon, and not to the virginia service location but rather the illinois warehouse.

richard then passed me to a sales rep - nicole - who might be able to track my package. but when i spoke to nicole, they only deal with new/refurb purchases, not with camera repair shipments. so she passed me back to the service center, this time speaking with reggie.

reggie put me on hold the longest, and i figured he was just going to pass me to another sales rep, but discovered later he was actually talking with his supervisor, trying to find my package. initially we figured the used camera was with the new one. reggie also said the illinois warehouse would probably throw out the used camera because they weren't equipped with resending packages. reggie put me on hold again. when he came back, he told me he escalated the issue with a supervisor, and whatever happened, they would find my 60D and get it back to me. he wasn't even sure if the cameras were bundled together. basically, don't worry, we'll find it, and if not, we'll replace it. a few minutes later i was surprised that reggie actually called me back. he said they found the camera, it hadn't left the repair factory yet even though according to the website it said it did. reggie said they'd send me a tracking number once they finally ship it out.

so i was on the phone with canon for more than an hour, just for them to finally figure out that my used 60D hadn't been shipped out yet. i'm glad it wasn't boxed along with the replacement camera body (that i ended up returning), because that would be a whole other issue. i actually told reggie i might try to fix the 60D, but he said that wasn't possible because the firmware needed to be reprogrammed, but i don't believe that's the case.

i was supposed to clean the aquarium today but i procrastinated and ended up vacuuming the house instead. especially the kitchen rug, annie's probably not used to having a rug in the kitchen, so there are little bits of food crumbs all over. the vacuum also picked up a lot of hair. she left today with the window opened again, i'll have to talk to her about that, i don't want to get burgled.

i spent the afternoon relishing my soft pretzel and watching the USA-sweden world cup match. this was the final game of the group stage, with both teams already advancing to the next round, just jockeying for position. i was hoping the US would lose, so they could regain some humility, but sweden ended up losing the game, 0-2.

annie wasn't home this morning when i woke up but came home early at 5:20pm. she was about to make dinner when i asked her if she was interested in going to market basket. she hesitated, asked if she could go tomorrow, but also added that she and a friend were thinking about going back to haymarket again on saturday. honestly, i could care less. she was the one who brought it up earlier this week, and now i'm the one who's asking her to go. for dinner i reheated the leftover chicken broth (scoop off a thick layer of congealed fat) and had it with some rice noodles.

terrible production today, the lowest we'd had this month at 8.19kWh. we're not going to set any records with numbers like that! tomorrow looks like a repeat. days like this i just want to shut off my electricity brain and not even think about solar. the only consolation is knowing that everyone else with solar in the area is experiencing the same thing.

i did another water change on my lotus seeds in the evening. no real difference from this morning, the seeds were still hard with a few in some state of rupture while others looked like they could use more sanding. there was also some brownish water at the bottom of the jar. by then there was only one seed floating, but after i changed out the water, there was 2 seeds floating again.

annie actually broke out of her comfort zone today, came into the living room to ask me something about a GRE test question. it was a highly technical paragraph critiquing the writings of african playwrights. what this had to do with being an astrophysicist i have no clue. i had to read it 3 times before i was able to understand the paragraph, written in that haughty intellispeak that i think is just pretentious bullshit. there was a choice of 5 answers, i picked the one that happened to be correct. later i explained to annie what the paragraph was trying to say. GRE is hard! even for a native english speaker like myself! can't even begin to imagine trying to take it as a second language. on the other hand, i'm sure she'll score perfect in the math section. her two classmate friends are taking it tomorrow, so they'll probably be up all night memorizing vocabulary words. one of them is leaving immediately for china on saturday, the other one is going home by month's end.

tonight i say good-bye to my panasonic lumix ZS40 camera. i had to start using it because my canon 60D DSLR died on me almost 2 weeks ago. but with my new canon 80D arriving tomorrow, the old lumix will probably go back on the shelf. i really haven't used it very much ever since i got it back in march 2016 after i killed my previous lumix ZS20 while trying to take it apart and fix the zoom mechanism. the ZS40 was only supposed to be my backup camera when i returned to chongqing in april-may 2016, in case my DSLR died, or i needed to go somewhere and i didn't want to carry all that heavy camera gear. i used it a few times while i was traveling just to shoot some videos from my hotel room window with its 30x zoom. the thing that surprised me is how feature packed the ZS40 is. it's really a fun little camera for anyone who likes to fiddle with a bunch of features. i like the miniature effect filter for shooting videos and i like the color isolation effect. it's fast enough, with 5fps in burst mode, and practically silent. however picture quality-wise, the DSLR is still much better. because the ZS40 is small though, i've found it to be a much better macro camera, and i may just carry it around to shoot bugs and flowers. the 30x is also good for capturing birds, especially videos. it's also nice that there's a viewfinder. back when i was still using the nikon coolpix, i thought the viewfinder was useless since i shot everything looking on the tiny LCD screen. but it was also the way i was shooting, usually from torso or hip level, and never raising the camera up to my head, that made the coolpix viewfinder obsolete. but on these P&S, i like the viewfinder in that 1) it doesn't use as much battery versus the LCD, and 2) it affords some privacy in photo composition. so now i would never get a camera that doesn't have a viewfinder, even if i sometimes shoot using the screen.

a few things i don't like though: that the video rec button is located so close to the shutter and the on/off button. i remember during the pride parade i accidentally shot videos a few times when i meant to take photos. the control ring is a nice concept - making the camera feel like a manual - but in practice i keep accidentally hitting it and changing the aperture/shutter (i think it's because i'm used to holding the lens barrel with my left hand when i'm shooting with the DSLR, so i do the same with the ZS40). since even looking through the viewfinder requires power, the camera can eat up the battery. back to the pride parade, i managed to go 3 hours worth of shooting and only using the viewfinder before i started to get one bar of power. problem could be solved if i just bought some extra batteries (2 DMW-BLG10 batteries with charger just $22) but because this was just a backup camera, i never found the need for extra batteries. but these 2 weeks with just the ZS40 was a good experience for me, i got a lot more practice with the camera. sure, my food photography suffered a bit (no ceiling bounce flash), but otherwise it was business as usual. still, it's going to be nice to have my hands on a DSLR again, i feel naked without one.

a final check of the fedex tracking showed my returned canon 80D leaving fremont, OH and finally arriving in chicago, IL, while the bundled 80D with lenses had departed willington, CT, on his way to MA for delivery tomorrow. feels like christmas eve, waiting for my presents tomorrow!