annie's mother went out this morning around 9:30am to explore harvard square. i'd done some research last night and told her that the museum of fine arts is free wednesday nights and said she and annie could go check it out after annie gets out from work. her mother thought it was a good idea and said she'd discuss it with her daughter. she went out but left the front door open for some reason.

i just happened to be leaving as well, and saw annie's mother still wandering around outside, as if she was lost. i passed by her on the motorcycle and asked if she knew where she was going. she said she had her map app on her phone, but i pointed her in the right direction as she was walking towards porter square instead.

i went to belmont to shut the skunk hole because obviously it was getting into the backyard somehow. it didn't take long to see that it had dug underneath the chicken wire barrier on the southern fence. i found a large rock to wedge in the hole and piled some logs on either side. hopefully this will keep the skunk away.

i wasn't on planning on being in belmont long, but when i went to go leave around 10:30am, i realized i left the key in the motorcycle and the battery had gone dead in the hour i was in the backyard. fortunately the bike was already parked in the driveway, so i grabbed the car charger and clamped it onto the bike battery. i then waited for the battery to charge up enough so i could start the bike. i finally left by 11:30am. it was so hot that the kickstand actually gouged into the softened driveway asphalt. i stopped by the cafe to pick up some longans and curry rice noodles (keeping the bike running) before returning home.

after lunch i biked to the dollar store to look for something i could use to spray diatomaceous earth. originally i was thinking a small plastic condiment bottle, but they didn't carry any. however i think i found something better: a baby nasal aspirator, which looked like a teardrop-shaped sprayer. afterwards i went to market basket to get a few things before coming home.

my second infrared led illuminator that i won off of an ebay auction for $4.25 arrived today from china. i was surprised, it only took about a week, i wasn't expecting it until weeks later. it looks the same but i won't be able to know for sure until i test it over this weekend.

annie's mother finally came back after 3:30pm, right before the storm arrived. i heard her fumbling with the key and decided to help her out by opening the door for her. just like this morning, she didn't bother closing the door behind her. "remember to close the door," i told her. she laughed, as if i said something silly. "this is a safe neighborhood, right?" she said. i didn't know how to answer. i didn't want to tell her that in the time i've lived here, some of my neighbors have been burgled. "you don't lock the door back home in beijing?" i asked. she laughed again, like i was the child asking silly questions. "we have bars on the windows, so it's safe," she told me. i didn't bother responding.

i finally managed to break through to annie's mother. the fact that she was so taciturn yesterday was most likely just the shock of being in a strange and unfamiliar place. she opened up today. i'd never been a great conversationalist, was always a little shy growing up. but the older i get, the better i am at talking with people. i've learned a few things: most people like talking about themselves given the chance, the trick is to find that subject that will get them chatting. with annie's mother, i figured with her being a college (or was it high school?) chinese literature professor and her daughter studying in the US, that education would be my in.

sure enough, she had plenty to say about chinese and american education, all the different ways chinese send their children overseas to study in hopes of a better future. i was listening, but i was also playing a game, like stoking a fire, thinking of other things to ask her to keep her talking. we got to the topic of annie herself, i asked how they could spare sending their only child to the other side of the world. she told me that although annie might seem obedient, she has a stubborn streak, and when she sets her mind to something, she doesn't turn away. i also learned that in high school, she was ranked no.3 in her class. these are things a mother would definitely brag about. annie tried getting into beijing university but her test score was such that she missed the entrance cutoff by a few points, so she was resentful when she went to her eventual university in shanghai (SPST). it's not a bad school but she was always looking for an upgrade.

i also told her that annie's female classmate friends who came with her during the MIT exchange all had boyfriends, which i found surprising (especially since i've met her friends and they were kind of dowdy). her mother exhaled, like i brought up a much discussed topic. she said she's talked to annie about it, that studies show the best time to find a boyfriend is during school, but annie has her own ideas, and basically told her mother not to worry. i asked her since her daughter would be in the US for a few more years at least, that if she was afraid annie might find a "white" boyfriend. her mother seemed to prefer her daughter to have a chinese boyfriend, as biracial couples - especially white male asian female - have a higher degree of divorce (but not white female asian male). her mother seems to be a treasure trove of social statistics and observations.

as we were chatting the sky darkened outside and suddenly there were downpours and strong winds, like a hurricane. i had my back to the window so i couldn't easily see, but i kept turning looking outside. later i received text from annie asking if her mother was home yet. she told me she'd take her mother to market basket after work. "you're not going to the museum?" i asked her. she said she was too busy. i felt that was good opportunity squandered, but i kept my opinion to myself.

annie returned home by 6pm. she and her mother left for market basket around 6:30pm. in that time i made a sandwich for dinner. i was expecting them back within an hour or so, but they didn't get home until 8:30pm. her mother proceded to cook in the kitchen, i stayed in the living room so i wouldn't have to witness the horror.

i solved the mystery of the shower curtain hole. i figured it out when i noticed a piece of what looked to be melted rubber on the electric kettle. i thought it was something annie did, and tried to wash it off. that's when i noticed there was a leaf skeleton pattern on the melted rubber. looks an awful lot like my shower curtain. after a few seconds i was finally able to piece the clues together. what happened was a few weeks ago i boiled annie's showering mitten because it was smelling bad. i grabbed a cereal bowl and soaked the mitten in boiling water. probably while i was doing that, i accidentally set the boiling electric kettle down and it grazed the shower curtain, melting off a piece.

my parents received more credit for the month of july: $34.51, for a combined rolling total of $309.83 credit. unfortunately we did not break the single month record, off by just 3kWh. afternoon production just crashed as the thunderstorms arrived earlier than expected, the sky turning dark, the solar god not smiling favorably on us. but this month should be asterisked, as we lost production on july 4th; add those missing numbers been added, i'm sure july 2019 would be the new record. regardless, we made enough this month (1287kWh) for at least a single point of SREC. hopefully we'll do well again in august; last year we only had 10 40kWh+ days in the 8th month.