since there's be people climbing ladders all around the house, it was the perfect time to not be home. i went out to pick up my prescriptions and do a grocery run, had to come back soon afterwards because i forgot to bring my shopping bags. i was supposed to pick up my drugs yesterday but the rain kept me from going. one of the things i needed to get from market basket was coconut milk, but the only brand they had (thai brand) wasn't to my liking so i'm going to ride down to chinatown tomorrow and get it there instead.
i also grabbed a turkey after consulting with my mother over the phone. i remember one year (2015) when we waited too long and didn't get the turkey until the weekend before thanksgiving. by then there were no more large frozen turkeys left (20+ lbs.), and after searching several supermarkets, we ended up going with a large fresh turkey (21 lbs.), 3x as expensive but it was our only option. it was actually the first time trying a fresh turkey and it actually tasted pretty good, very flavorful and juicy. the next year (2016) we ended up going fresh turkey as well, this time getting a 21 lbs. bird from costco (99¢/lbs.). fresh turkey continued in 2017, a 22 lbs. bird (88¢/lbs.) from the porter square star market. finally, last year (2018) was another fresh turkey, but they didn't have any large birds when we went to market basket (the friday before t-day), so we grabbed the biggest one they had which was only 20.5 lbs.
this year we're going back to frozen turkey. we've feasted on fresh birds for the past 4 years, but my father prefers the frozen ones. when we buy fresh, he's always afraid the bird will go bad before we cook it because he brines the turkey for several days. there's more work with a frozen bird - a big turkey takes at least a few days to thaw - but if you start early there's plenty of time. i can't really tell the difference between fresh or frozen, and in the 4 years of fresh turkeys, there was one thanksgiving where the bird was a little dry, which had to do with overcooking, so getting a fresh turkey doesn't guarantee a delicious turkey. fresh (and when i say fresh i mean refrigerated instead of frozen) turkey always come with some brine solution, so you're actually paying for less turkey. we brine our bird anyway, so the pre-brine isn't necessary. anyway, very long story short, i grabbed the largest frozen turkey i could find at 22.45 lbs.
getting it home was the first challenge, as i tied down the bird to my rear rack with a pair of bungie cords. next i needed to get it to the cafe, but i didn't want to bike because i was going to drive the spare car back to belmont so i could leave it there and exchange it for my motorcycle in the garage. so i put the 20+ lbs. frozen turkey in my backpack and walked to the cafe. it felt like carrying a very cold boulder on my back.
when i got there my mother was gone on her daily walk. my father didn't seem to notice how i got there, but when my mother came back she asked how i arrived and i told her i walked with the turkey on my back. my parents told me that pansusu was definitely coming to thanksgiving, arriving in town on wednesday. why he would choose thanksgiving to return to the US from china/taiwan is kind of unusual, without his 2nd wife no less. rumor has it that maybe he was hoping to see his kids, not realizing they'd probably be spending it with their mother, his estranged 1st wife. i also learned he was bringing two other people with him, the children of chinese coworkers attending nearby boston university. i thought this was a terrible idea, as thanksgiving is supposed to be family only. but that's not entirely true, we've had frequent t-days where we've invited strangers, like resident chinese astrophysicists (and their spouses) or visiting tourists. who knows, maybe they're cool. but the fact that they're from china (instead of taiwan) feels like there'd be some things (like politics) we can't talk about without hurting their feelings.
i was going to take off for belmont, but my mother asked me to wait for my 2nd aunt to arrive so i could drive her to west belmont for a haircut appointment (she was going to take the bus but she would've gotten lost and i was heading in that direction anyway).
the place i dropped off my aunt was a house running an illicit haircutting business. i waited in the car as she rang the doorbell and knocked on the door. nobody seemed to be home until she called them and finally somebody came out. my aunt waved to let me know she was okay. i went to my parents' place to drop off the car. i was almost hoping the garaged motorcycle wouldn't start up so i could use my jerryrigged extension jumping cable setup, but the engine roared to life without any problems.
it was actually a warm day today (temperature close to 50's), and i'd already warmed up from the biking and walking. but i was underdressed for the motorcycle, wearing just a light jacket with only a t-shirt underneath, cruising at 30mph. it wasn't bone rattling cold, but whenever i came to a stop light i rubbed my arms to warm them up.
when i got back home i rerouted the positive terminal cable so it fed through the toolbox shell below. this would allow me (in theory) to jump start the battery without having to remove the bike seat, which requires an allen wrench. the toolbox on the other hand came be easily opened with the bike key. i'm going to be ready for the next time my motorcycle battery dies on me.
i brought back some leftover ribs my mother gave me at the cafe for lunch. they weren't particularly noteworthy (maybe because i was eating them cold). i had them with a glass of black tea while watching the final day of impeachment hearings.
around 3:30pm i left to attend a lecture about taiwanese diplomatic trips overseas. it was a small lecture and entirely taiwanese with the exception of the organizer. it wasn't so much a lecture, more like a discussion group. the organizer asked us to go around the room and introduce ourselves. i had to reveal that i wasn't affiliated with the school but was just interested in taiwanese politics. the organizer said i didn't need to apologize and was welcomed to attend. he said he wa hoping to make this into an informal weekly event, and that he'd provide free dinner for all using the department's budget. as for the others, most were either PhD candidates or post-docs. there was just one other person that didn't seem to fit, a young undergraduate boy. the fact that his english was perfect and just the overall way he carried himself (slouchy, no bag) meant he grew up in the states. he was also the only person to leave immediately after the lecture, probably wasn't that interested in taiwanese politics after all.
the lecture turned out to be analysis of some polling data asking taiwanese about hypothetical favorable or unfavorable characteristics for politicians. the data was interesting, but the survey group skewed young and urban, so it wasn't an accurate representation of the general population. also, the political situation in taiwan can change so fast (like a violent HK protest, or a hardline xi jinping speech), if the survey was taken again, the results would be quite different. still, it was pretty interesting, and the guest speaker was so delighted with getting to present a talk at harvard that she was taking selfies with her announcement posters.
i returned home by 6pm.
it was a sunny day and production was a perfect curve but we never hit 6kW today. i discovered that production is actually greater when the temperature is lower (33°F of nov.13 versus 48°F of today). also the angle of the sun is 2° lower compared to what it was a week ago.
dinner came in the form of a cheese & ham sandwich ginned up with some brown spicy mustard and some spicy pepper rings. i watched the thursday night football game between the colts and the texans. i was rooting for jacoby brissett, but houston won 20-17. just like yesterday, i still felt hungry after my sandwich, so i had another korean instant cup of noodles.