i went to the cafe in the late morning to drop off the ice cream i bought last night. temperature was in the lower 60's and i wore a hooded sweatshirt but the sky was a crystal clear blue and i warmed up quickly after a few minutes of biking, a picture perfect autumn day. my sister texted to let me know she got some soft pretzels for me; i was not happy because i'm trying to lose weight, and being on a soft pretzel diet wasn't going to work, i should've told her earlier. by the time i arrived in belmont, i stripped down to just a t-shirt and worked comfortably in the backyard.

i opened up the door to the sunroom to let in all the trapped hot air circulate through the rest of the house. i also checked the status of the solar panel charging batteries. yesterday i hooked the 20W panel onto the motorcycle battery (scorpion YTZ14S 11.2Ah) because the voltage had dropped to a dangerously low 10.6V. when a battery drops that low, it's already near 0% and often times can't recover back to normal. that battery was bad to begin with, even after my father put it on a desulfating charger for weeks and months. i was worried because when i hooked up the 20W panel, the controller wasn't charging and was flashing a red led on the battery status, meaning it could sense something was wrong with the battery. but i was happy to see it was back to 13.6V today, even though that's false because once it stops charging, it will drop back down again. maybe not 10.6V, but it can't hold a charge anymore, and any amount of usage will drop the voltage to zero capacity.

my original plan was just to water the grass patches and make sure squirrels/chipmunks haven't been digging in my garlic bed, but i ended up doing a lot of work in the grow room. it's awfully buggy in there, from fungus gnat infestation in the dragon fruit cactus soil (my father had been overwatering with mosquito bit treated water but he also added some fertilizing solution which killed all the bacteria), to hitchhiking leafhoppers, to the occasion caterpillar slowly eating the foliage. i also discovered that aphids had been attacking the ficus topiaries because i noticed everything around that area was sticky. i ended up moving the ficus outside and spraying them with insecticidal soap. i also moved the basil and sprayed soap on that as well. the gardenia looked dry so i took it outside to water and give it a nice shower, as well as a nearby jasmine that had sticky leaves from the ficus.

i hooked up the 10ft cordinate extension cord. i had to move the surge protector to the middle of the room, resulting in a crisscross of cables between the two metal shelves. i need to find a longer power cable. i also need to dig up 1-2 wisteria plants growing on the lawn: not to move inside but to grow outdoors. it's not a priority as we already have some potted wisterias, but the sooner it's potted the more time it has to aclimate before we get our hard freeze. speaking of which, october is almost over and we haven't experienced a killing frost yet in belmont nor cambridge. last year i planted my garlics mid-october and i remember it was freezing.

i'm waiting for my lotuses to die, or their leaves anyway. once that happens, i can finally relocate them to the basement for winter storage. maybe a killing frost will hasten their demise. i'm just dying to see the tangle of underwater lotus roots.

so for the first hour i worked in the grow room. the second hour i spent outside, watering the front and backyard. not having hailey there meant i could work peacefully, not having a dog barking at me to run the sprinkler. critters have yet to discover the garlic bed, but it's only a matter of time. hopefully i planted the cloves deep enough (6") and put a thick enough layer of saltmarsh grass to protect the garlics when squirrels do eventually begin digging.

i dugged up another pepper plant, the thai chili. i wanted to save the apache pepper but it doesn't look very healthy; it'd be easier just to grow it from seeds come spring time.

i was done by 2:20pm, went around checking the solar battery statuses one last time. the 50W panel was actually pulling more watts than the 100W panel. that's because the 50W is mounted higher up, while the 100W is mounted lower, the maple tree shadow covering much of it. the voltage on the 85Ah deep cycle marine battery in the basement is never as good as the 35Ah battery in the sunroom. one reason is because the 35Ah is new, so it has a higher capacity. another reason is because the 85Ah actually does work, when i run the water pump outside it draws power from this battery. it wouldn't be so bad if the 100W was running close to efficiency, but it's mounted vertically outside and most of the time i only see single digit wattage. once the growing season is finally over, we can clean the raised beds and mount the 100W on an incline so it has a better angle to the sun.

i popped a roca chocolate in my mouth before biking back to cambridge. i stopped by the cafe to pick up the pretzel. my sister said she bought two but when she heard i was angry she got me pretzels again, she ate one herself. i didn't mind have a pretzel today, as i didn't eat yet all day (i didn't think i'd be in belmont that long) so the pretzel became my lunch.

in the late afternoon i went to star basket to stock on up on sale items. i love the stouffers frozen lasagna. it comes in various sizes, the regular (which i consider a small) and their large (19 oz.). i prefer the large size. normally they're $4.49 each, but this week they're on sale for only $1.99. i like these lasagnas because they're no sweetness; whenever i make my own, there's always a sweetness i don't like, whether from the lasagna noodles, or the tomato sauce, or perhaps the cheese. i've been meaning to change up my lasagna recipe, i usually make a meat sauce lasagna, and one time i made an eggplant lasagna, but that was ages ago, and i don't remember a thing about it. star market has these mix-and-match sales, where everything is $1.99 but you need to buy at least 6 or more. so i also got some rice pudding, a canned soup (chicken dumplings), and some chocolate milk. while i was leaving i saw some workers discussing the developer meeting last night to redevelop the star market area (by the way, i found an online article about the meeting, i can be seen in the group photo). even if star market stays (that's a big if, star market has already closed stores in cambridge central square and somerville winter hill due to downsizing), the store would be closed for at least a year (mostly likely longer) while they rebuild, and all those workers will need to find jobs elsewhere, and all those neighbors have to get their groceries in other places.

date timedaylight lengthaltitudeazimuth
10/19 12:30pm10h55m29s37.60°180.11°
10/24 12:30pm10h41m59s35.83°180.34°
10/31 12:30pm10h23m44s33.48°180.50°
12/21 11:45am9h5m12s24.22°180.58°
6/21 12:45pm15h18m5s71.06°178.99°

it was no surprise that we experienced another perfect curve production wise. but it was smaller than the production from 5 days ago, also a perfect curve. i used a sun calculator to find the maximum altitude (when azimuth is around 180°) and daylight duration, and the data sort of explained everything. the max altitude had changed by 2°, which is one thing, but the daylight length had also changed dramatically, less 13-1/2 minutes. each day we make less and less electricity, until the winter solstice (12/21), in which time each day we will make a little bit more. i also looked up some other dates: by halloween, the daylight length will reduce to nearly 20 less minutes, while the altitude drops 2.5°. compare that to the start of the summer (the summer solstice), the longest day of the year at more than 15 hours of daylight, with a maximum altitude of 71°.

i set up a little motion sensing el light in my closet. what i really wanted to see was if i could connect two strands of el lights attached to their own inverters to the motion sensing switch. it was a little hard to connect, but when i plugged it in it worked for a split second before the orange light strand went dead. when i switched the inverters, the orange strand wouldn't turn on, so i knew it was dead. when i went to touch the non-working inverter, it was hot to the touch so i quickly disconnected it. i can't be sure what happened: either it doesn't like the tandem connection i made, or the inverter was faulty to begin with and fried the light stand and itself. hard to say, but the inverter plus light only cost me $1 from ebay, so it wasn't a terrible lost. only issue is it takes a long time to arrive from china, i should order more at some point.

most of my ebay purchases made back in early september have arrived, only about a dozen or so things still remain, but most of the essentials are already here. tonight, some ratchet clamps for our grow lights and a bunch of 12V led rocker switches. here are the things i'm still waiting for: car battery terminal clamps, 3A UBEC, mini potentiometers, mini 2 position switches, 30A 12 positions terminal block, logic level shifter converters, mini prototype boards, female spade crimps, optocoupler relay modules, RC EC5 banana connectors, 12V red/green rocker switches, 1M 60LEDS 5050 RGB strip light, lever micro switches.

i ended up buying something else tonight online, but not from ebay: wyze was having a one day sales event, the sale being free shipping on purchases over $25. so i ended up buying 2 more wyze cam v2 from them at $20 a pop, which is a good price, because normally they also charge about $5/each for shipping and handling. of course this means i also need to get memory cards for each cameras.

i made an italian sandwich for dinner, to coincide with the start of thursday night football between the redskins and vikings. minnesota playing at home with a season record of 5-2 was favorite to win against the 1-6 washington. but both teams seemed ineffective on the offense, and the redskins were always within striking distance of taking the lead, which they never did. i stopped watching somewhere around the 3rd quarter. i've got a bad feeling about football this week, after news of josh gordon's being put on the IR, which effectively ends his career as a patriots. the move is surprising, as reports said he was seen in practice. bill belichick is so cutthroat when it comes to cutting guys, no wonder even tom brady was scared he'd be replaced by someone younger when jimmy garoppolo was his backup. plus there's rumors that brady will leave new england after this season, as this is the final year of his contract and he put his house for sale (along with his svengali quack trainer alex guerrero). the patriots make it hard to like the team sometimes.

my father called me tonight, his cruise ship the norwegian gem anchored off the coast of chatham, close enough to get cell phone reception at least. he said they were planning on getting ready to leave by 7:30am tomorrow morning, but probably wouldn't actually disembark until 8:30am. he asked me to leave my house at 7:30am, which should be enough time to rendezvous with them.