there must be method to my roommate kevin's madness: this morning he got up at 8am and left around 8:30am. i guessing on days he goes to work early it's because he has meetings, otherwise he can leave as late as noontime, or just not bother going at all. i was up by 9:30am but surf the web from bed until 10am, knowing that i was alone in the house.

cake flour jumbo
blueberry muffins
(6 servings)

1 stick salted butter, thawed
3/4 cups sugar

2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups flour
4 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 cup half and half
2 cups frozen blueberries
cooking spray

sparkling sugar

thaw butter overnight. cream butter & sugar; add eggs, vanilla, juice; mix dry ingredients into batter 1/3 at a time, adding some half and half in between. mix in blueberries. spoon into jumbo muffin pan. top with sparkling sugar. bake at 425°F 10 min. 375°F 30 mins. + additional 10 minutes

i made blueberry muffins in the late morning, got inspired, but also because i wanted to use up the 2 frozen bags of wild blueberries in my freezer that been there from at least last september, which was the last time i made muffins. last night i set out a stick of butter to thaw overnight; the butter belonged to annie, so it's been in the fridge since august, which was when annie and her mother left. it's high quality butter (kerrygold), much better than the generic stuff i normally buy, but after nearly half a year in the fridge, i can't imagine it to be very good anymore.

i dug up my old time-tested muffin recipe, the cake flour jumbo blueberry muffins. same as last time, except i was using all wild blueberries this time around (didn't have any norma blueberries). i also finally got some sparkling sugar months ago just for this occasion, to sprinkle on top of the muffins before they get baked.

i made the muffins while watching the news on my phone. since i upgraded to unlimited data yesterday, i still haven't tried it yet because i'm mostly home and on my wifi. i look forward to the opportunity where i can be somewhere remote and watch television or do a video chat. i have never video chatted remotely, because i've never had unlimited data before. it's going to take some getting used to.

the muffins were finally done by 1:30pm after 50 minutes of baking. i cut one open, it was piping hot. it tasted pretty good, but there was an off-taste, most likely the old butter, which probably absorbed some refrigerator odor. i didn't even notice the sparkling sugar, but still a nice finishing touch. i thought about delivering them to my mother but decided maybe next time, when i use better butter. i wrapped one up for kevin and saved the remaining 4 for myself.

today i had some errands to do that i've kept putting off. first was to adjust the brakes on my bicycle. it's gotten to the point where i have very little stopping power, which can be dangerous. i wasn't looking forward to it because it was freezing cold outside (though actually the normal average for january) which made it hard to work. i could've done it in the basement, but it was brighter outside and a lot more space. i thought i had to replace all the brake pads but they were fine. the main issue was because i have side-pull brakes, the farthest brake arms would fail to snap back due to all the salt accumulation. i squirted some triflow oil into the springs to loosen them up. i also adjusted the tension screws and remounted the brake lines. i finally got them to work, both front and rear brakes. afterwards i wiped everything done with WD-40, cleaning off a lot of salt accumulation on the body and fenders. it took about an hour, but afterwards i felt like i got a brand new bike. at the very least i can brake again without fearing for my life.

steve took down half of my tibetan prayer flags a few days ago, under the pretense that squirrels were chewing on it for nesting material. i thought he was understepping his boundaries, and i think he just didn't like the fact that the strand of flags had snapped in half from wind damage and i haven't had time to fix it yet until today. the remaining flags was still long enough that i could reattach it across my back porch. i also have a strand of unused flags but these old ones still have some life in them. besides, their tattered weather-worn look gives them character.

i went to star market briefly to get some red seedless grapes on sale. i should've tried them first because later i found out they were kind of sour. i also bought a case of seltzer. coming back, i bumped into jack, who also seemed to be going to the supermarket.

the other thing i had to do was clean the fish tank. i haven't cleaned it since kevin arrived more than a month ago, so i was due. i started at 4pm, listening to the final day of senate impeachment trial questioning on the radio (WGBH) while i worked. scrubbing off the algae from the glass took the longest, and even then i only managed to clean half. i was about finished when kevin came home at 5:30pm. he didn't ask what i was doing, i didn't bother explaining either, though it was self-explanatory.

later while searching online for a better algae scraper than the course algae sponge i currently use, i discovered people have been using magic erasers to clean algae. i always thought they were toxic, but apparently enough people use it to clean their aquariums with no ill side-effects to the fish. so i'm going to try that next time (as early as tomorrow) since i have a bulk supply of magic erasers in my closet.

binbin's accountant got in touch with me today. she asked me to send her a picture of the condo fee pay stub so she could pay it before the due date end of next week. i also asked for her address so i could send the rest of the bills for her to take a look at.

today was another record day, with 500Wh more of production compared to yesterday's record production, with a final number of 34.54kWh. it was bright enough that from 10:45am to 12:15pm we were above 6kW. other than very early this morning, we exceded yesterday's production everywhere throughout the day. what was the difference? because yesterday was a clear deep blue sky as well. turns out, i might know the answer: while yesterday was 100% clear, today there was a few thin cirrus clouds in the sky. not enough to block the sun, but enough to reflect and amplify the rays. only under these circumstances - when the sky just has a touch of wispy high altitude clouds - do we get better production compared to a perfectly clear day.

besides the one muffin, i've also been snacking on the potato wedges i made yesterday. all that starchy goodness is really filling. for dinner, i went back and heated up half a container of spicy mexican chicken soup. i still have enough for 2 more servings.

i started watching doctor sleep, the stephen king sequel to the shining. i went in with low expectations, because i thought a sequel was a dumb idea, and would pale in comparison to stanley kubrick's original. but doctor sleep has been surprisingly good so far, and even though it could never be better than kubrick's (it doesn't even try), it does offer a few nods to the original. the good thing is the film works as a standalone and can be enjoyed without knowing anything about the the shining.