it's so hard to wake up early in the mornings when its cold, compounded by the fact that i don't typically sleep until 3-4am. today was the first day after a lengthy snowstorm, where the romanticized beauty of the fresh snow-covered landscape is quickly replaced by the reality of dirty slushy snow and overnight flash frozen snowcrete. supposedly were due for some sun, but other than a slight brighting in the morning, the day was pretty much grey throughout.

in the backyard, squirrels were busy eating from their buried scattered hoards. due to the abundance of acorns this year from the neighbor's large backyard oak tree, all these squirrels were super fat. squirrels don't hibernate like some other new england rodents (chipmunks, woodchucks), and remain active throughout the winter, which i imagine can be tough. i know they put away food during autumn, but when there's a lot of snow on the ground, how do they even find it?

in the early afternoon i went across the street to star market to buy some apples and hazelnuts. there was a sale on honey crisp apples ($1.99/lbs.) but there was also a similar sale on a new type of apple called sugar bee which i was curious to try. the two things i noticed right away were how big they were and how many had a pretty red color (almost like a red delicious) that i don't see on honey crisp apples.

i tried a sugar bee apple as soon as i got home. they're crispy (crunchy) and juicy like honey crisp apples, and very sweet, like a red delicious, but with a more complex flavor, not a single hint of sourness. the flesh also had a yellow color to it. i liked it so much, i'm going to buy some more tomorrow and deliver them to my parents.

i took the silicone ring off of a mason jar moonshine pour spout and put it on one of the solar mason jar lid string lights to see if it'd leak. apparently that was all it took to keep the jar completely waterproof. i then went online looking to find cheap silicone rings (for regular mouth jars). amazon had a good deal of 48 rings for $11, but they were 3" in diameter, slightly bigger than the typical jar opening. plus, i really didn't need 48, maybe more like 20 rings. instead of risking it, i went with something more traditional, found an ebay seller from china that sold 10 for $4. true, it'll take a few weeks to arrive, but i'm in no hurry. if they work, i may in fact order 8 more solar mason jar lids and seal them with silicone rings to make sure they're completely waterproof.

i made some turkey rollups for dinner.

in keeping with my streak of buying something online everyday during the holiday season, tonight i went to the gap outlet to score some cheap pants and a turtleneck. there was a 60% off everything sale, combined with an additional 15% plus free shipping no minimum. the turtleneck i couldn't figure out what size so i ordered two to try on, will return the other one in store. i also got a pair of gloves with a double fingerless outer layer.

it was while searching for physical gap outlet stores that i discovered the one at the former arsenal mall (now renamed arsenal yards) was still open despite all the demolition and construction all around the area. not only that, but a look at the map showed chipotle was still there, just moved across the street. and the old navy store had returned as well, that was the only store my other still visited during the mall's waning days. there was also a shake shack. there were also coming soon stores slated for 2020 and 2021, though they all seemed rather weak. a european wax center? a santander bank? a t-mobile? an ulta beauty store? can you really tout those as attractions? there were also some future bar restaurants: city works, condesa, tendergreens, the gallows, none of which i'd heard before, and none of which would interest me anyway. a poke shop was scheduled to open, though i already have 3 nearby poke options around where i live. a tori jiro restaurant - the first in the US - is also in the works for fall 2020; that one actually looks interesting, might be worth a visit for authentic japanese chicken barbecue. finally, the crown jewel of the businesses the developers managed to attract, a roche bros. supermarket is slated to open fall 2020. i've yet to visit a roche bros., and i get it confused with wegmans all the time, another relatively new grocery chain i've yet to visit either.

always on the lookout for cheap two-way radios and other ham related items, i came across the eton elite executive (EEE) digital shortwave radio for just $100 on amazon (usually it sells for $150). not sure if it was a lightning deal item, or just a holiday price reduction. it'd be something for my father to play with. i used to have a small analog shortwave radio that my friend manny gave me one christmas, but never really used it (can't even remember receiving any shortwave radio broadcasts), and ended up lending it to my grand uncle to listen to the radio but never got it back. with modern day SDR dongles able to do much of the work of the shortwave radio (and beyond), there's still something to be said about an actual physical radio that just works without all the technical setups of SDR's.

i looked at the eton elite executive in the past and it seemed too expensive, or at least similarly priced to other shortwave radios with single side band (SSB) that had more features (like the tecsun PL880 for $150 or the c.crane CC skywave for $170). so the EEE not only picks up shortwave, but AM and FM as well; FM includes RDS support, which displays song and artist information. SSB allows the EEE to hear ham radio chatter on common bands like 20m and 10m. the EEE also receives aircraft bands (118-137 MHz VHF bands). however it doesn't receive any NOAA weather broadcast channels (around the 162 Mhz frequency range), although our cheap baofeng radios can get them just fine (and realistically, if you're ever in a situation where you're monitoring the weather, you probably should also have a two-way radio handy just in case, which the baofeng is perfect for). the EEE doesn't receive the rest of the VHF (2m) band nor any of the 70mm band, which means it can't be used as a police/fire scanner. in regards to radio models, the CC skywave does support NOAA radio, while the tecsun does not but it does have 3 dedicated tuning knobs which makes signal scanning easier; neither of those radios support VHF/UHF bands, nor support RDS on FM.

i finally got around to updating the cafe website, more than a year later after i first started. what was the holdup? i basically had everything set up since february, using a wordpress template. all that was missing was some photos. even though wordpress made everything easier, there was still something about it i didn't like. i couldn't really figure out how to customize some of the settings and it'd do buggy things i didn't understand and couldn't control. for example, i wanted the menu categories in a certain order, and i labelled them in such a way that it should follow what i wanted, but every once in a while i would sort everything in alphabetical order again.

so what i did instead was to create a simple 3 column layout using responsive CSS columns that was pretty much the menu, which is what most people are looking for anyway when they do a search. it's responsive, so if you look at the website on a phone, the columns reduce to either a double or single format. it has a few cosmetic bugs, but it works for the time being, better than what i had before which was just a filler page for all these years. while i was at it, i also made a new favicon using the cafe logo. it was nearly 3am before i finished.