it was my mother who actually woke up phone with a phone call, said my father was leaving the house to come pick me up and told me to get ready. i didn't even have time to have my ritual morning poop, as i quickly got dressed and gathered my things. because of the work i did last night, our sidewalk was the clearest in the neighborhood. it was raining and the landscape was a slushing mess full of icy puddles.
my father and i went to the cafe to help with the snow removal. my sister had already started, cleaning up her own front steps before working on clearing out her car. while my father went to start the snowblower, i cleared the sidewalk with a shovel, the snow already compacted into hard slush from the early morning foot traffic. it's one thing to clear the snow after a storm, it's quite another to do it right in the middle. it wasn't snowing but a freezing drizzle would make sure i'd be completely soaked when it was all over.
while clearing the snow from the sidewalk, i witnessed a cyclist smash into the back of a car parked on the street. it was the cyclist's fault, he wasn't looking when he was turning, and ran straight into the car, which was far enough from the intersection that had the cyclist been looking he would've had time to avoid the collision. the driver didn't even get out of the car to check if his vehicle was damaged, just wanted to get away from the scene of the accident. the cyclist parked his bike against the side of the building and took out a tool to adjust his dropdown handlebars, which got bent forward in the crash.
there is something peaceful about snow removal, similar to the feeling of mowing the lawn. but cutting the grass is easy compared to shoveling snow, especially the snow we had today which was the wet heavy slushy kind, the kind that breaks backs. i already knew my body would be hurting tomorrow, during the third phase of the storm, when the rain transitions back into steady snow for much of tuesday morning into the early afternoon.
we left sometime after 11am for belmont. my mother had already cleared the driveway so there wasn't any shoveling to be done. however, we still needed to clear the snow off of the solar panels. the across the street neighbor's panels had self-cleaned because their roof has a steeper angle, but even then, there was a snow jam at the bottom of roof, covering up 7 panels. even if they wanted to, their roof is simply too high to clear off the snow, they're entirely up to the mercy of mother nature.
i think we were out of practice so had to relearn a lot of the solar panel snow removal techniques we acquired last winter. my father thought we could just use the stepladder but the only real way to get to the panels further up on the roof was to use the extension ladder resting up against the house. this was one of the hardest types of snow to clear, the wet heavy slushy kind that preferred to stick instead of all sliding off in a spectacular avalanche. so how much snow accumulation did we actually get? hard to gauge since it's a snow and rain mix, but judging from the snow depth on the panels, about 3" fell in belmont.
we started on the right side, then the left, and finally in the middle clearing the panels above the sunroom. by that point we were using two foamed snow rakes, one to pull and slide the snow off of the panels, another person to clear the snow off of the bottom edge of the roof. of course it didn't help that it was still raining and my clothes already soaked. i had to change gloves at one point because the wet freezing gloves were too unbearable.
by the time i finished and went back inside it was almost 1pm. i stripped out of my wet clothes. fortunately my jacket kept my upper body dry, but my pants were soaked and my mother found a pair of my father's sweat pants i could wear while waiting for my pants to dry. i had some leftover turkey for lunch. my parents tried the sample size choya japanese plum wine i bought for thanksgiving but forgot to take out.
throughout the rest of the afternoon it would alternate between rain and snow. no point worrying about what it was doing to the solar panels, as more snow is expected tomorrow morning, so i'll be back again tomorrow afternoon to do another round of roof snow clearing.
my father and i had to treat a thai chili pepper plant and a potted thai basil for aphid infestation. we put the hot pepper in the bathtub and gave it a shower with a sprayer before spraying on some insecticidal soap. the thai basil we removed about half of the leaves before taking it to the bathtub and spraying with insecticidal soap as well. the pepper definitely had it worse, and may not be worth saving if it continues to deteriorate, if nothing else, at least get rid of it so the aphids have nothing to feed on. the basil had some bugs on the fresh leaves, which we removed by pruning. the leaves were very lush and succulent, seemingly better than if they'd be grown outside, the grow lights are definitely working. not wanting to let them go to waste, we washed the leaves and had them for dinner later.
my sister made a surprise appearance on her birthday, on her way to her friend's house for dinner. because she nearby, she was able to give me a ride home afterwards.
instead of having turkey rollups for dinner, we had turkey rice porridge and turkey and basil stirfry. we still have more turkey but my mother froze the rest to keep from spoiling. what was left over she gave me to eat this week. my father made some more bing since they ran out.
my sister texted me around 7:20pm, said she was waiting outside. i gathered my things, put on my still-wet jacket, and returned to cambridge.
a package was waiting for me on the doorstep: my dbpower EX7000 pro action camera that i bought from amazon for just $20. even though it's feature packed, the low price made me leery. even at its original price of $50, it's still cheaper than most other cheap china-brand action cameras. i got it to upgrade my 4-year old SJ4000 cam, but also because of the touchscreen, something the SJ cam doesn't have. the EX7000 feels more substantial, weighing slightly more (83g compared to 62g of the SJ4000), and the body seems to be metal but a check online revealed it's just a very hard plastic material. what i like most is the smell though, has a nice new car smell.
the EX7000 only has one button on top of the camera that controls on/off/record. it's got a large 2.45" touchscreen which takes up the entire back of the camera, compared to the SJ4000 which only had a 1.5" screen. i turned on the camera briefly to check it out, but the battery indicator flashed low, so i decided to fully charge the battery before further delving into the camera. for just $20 the EX7000 not only comes with 1 battery, but actually 2 batteries and an external charger that runs on USB.
once the battery was charged, i also put in the memory card. i got a 128GB samsung microXDHC ($17) just so i can record without worry too much about running out of memory. i couldn't find the memory card slot and had to look it up in the instruction manual, and even then it wasn't very clear where it was. it's located along the side of the battery compartment, but it's not labelled anywhere, and you basically go on blind faith that the little gap you see there is for a memory. i didn't need to reformat the card, it worked as-is. the camera also seems to support exFAT, which was the card format.
the interface was fairly intuitive, but i didn't understand some of the options (WDR, image stabiliser, motion detection, slow motion, photo lapse, sequence). the camera arrived with 4K24fps as the default video setting, but i lowered it to 1080p30fps, which i heard was the sweet spot. i recorded a few test videos and imported them (by removing the memory card) onto my laptop for a closer look. though the videos looked good on the 2" LCD, i wasn't really impressed with the quality when viewed on a larger screen. it seemed a little soft, lacked focus, which could be a result of it being slightly dark in my living room. i'll test it tomorrow during the daytime to see the difference. still, given i only paid $20, i think the quality lived up to the expectation. overall i'm happy with the upgrade and can't wait to put it to some use.
today was cyber monday. the first time i heard about cyber monday was back in 1996, right out of college and working as a web designer. i thought it was a joke at first, and to call it cyber monday? what was that even mean? was is cyber? something futuristic? no wonder the expression was coined in the 90's. back then, the infancy of online shopping, who would've thought cyber monday would become such a big deal 2 decades later? i scoured amazon.com all day, looking for deals, but nothing really piqued my interest. i was hoping to score an instant pot 60 duo plus if and only if they sold it at the amazon prime discount price of $55 (which i almost bought back in july but waited too long and the deal expired). i also don't know why, but i'm always on the lookout for good deals on led grow lights, even though we already have so many.
but i couldn't resist not buying something, so by the end of the evening, i spent $36 (lightning deal) on yet another wyze cam v2 along with a wyze sense starter kit. i really got it for the starter kit (which amazon doesn't sell on its own, but wyze does sell it for $20), and i debated long and hard if it was even worth it, but finally decided it was, set it up at the cafe as a security monitor to know when the doors are opened. i also got a digital caliper for $13. that one had been on my wishlist for a while, but i found other calipers with bigger displays. but those cost $20+, while cheap plastic digital versions cost $7. i decided to go the middle road, get something stainless, but doesn't have the big display. if seeing the numbers is an issue, i'll return this caliper and upgrade to a better one, but we only ever have some sparing need for calipers, i don't think it'd make much of a difference. they sell something very similar at harbor freight, but at $13 the one i got is cheaper, and it has also fractions, something the HF one doesn't have.
while at my parents i rung out my wet gloves in the sink. i was horrified when dirty brown water dripped out from the gloves. when was the last time i washed them? so when i got back home, i soaked them in some oxi-clean powder, hot water for the gloves, cold water for my wool knit cap that i also decided to wash. i was only going to presoak them for an hour or so, but i forgot about them until after midnight, where i gave them a quick wash in the sink with some woolite before finding places for them to air dry around my forced hot air vents.