ever since we switched our clocks to daylight saving time, our smart plugs have been malfunctioning. at minimum, any scheduled events are running an hour late; at worse, the plug has been gone completely haywire, turning off and on seemingly at random. i fixed the one at home (lantern lamp) by reseting the plug and setting it up as brand new. i still needed to do the two smart plugs in the grow room at my parents' place.

before i could do that today, i paid a visit to the quest diagnostics office in union square. i'm supposed to schedule an appointment to get some blood drawn after my predict 2 study is over. the union square clinic is the one closest to me, but they don't do appointments, only walk-ins. i went down to get some info, see how busy they are, if it'd be realistically possible for me to just walk-in and get my samples taken.

turns out it wasn't just the quest diagnostics office, but in fact quest only shares a small space within the mt.auburn healthcare clinic. i must've passed by this place a hundred times, never knew it was a medical facility. i wrote my name on a clipboard and pressed a button. a guy came out and brought me into his crowded office. i told him what i wanted, he didn't seem to understand at first, but seemed to get it eventually. he actually told me get my lab work done at the arlington quest office, which have better facilities, but when i asked if i could get the same thing done here, he said yes, but i wasn't so sure.

returning home, i passed by market basket, which was crowded with car traffic, as the coronavirus crisis escalates and people start hoarding groceries.

next i made my way to belmont. temperature was in the 40's, not warm enough to go jacketless. i didn't wear my helmet because it was the daytime and i felt it was safe to go without one today.

i reset the two grow room smart plugs by setting the plugs to the factory default. i tested them both by setting a scheduled event to go off within the next minute, which they both did. before i left, i checked the yellow sticky traps; they'd been there since monday, but only caught a few fungus gnats, with most of the traps still blank. this is terrific news, it means the Bti soil drench treatment from the past few months actually worked. it doesn't mean we can stop though, as long as there are just a few fungus gnats, we need to continue. we can only stop once there are zero gnats.

i went out into the backyard to check on the status of the stone weighted squirrel buster. i knew it was working because since i set it up yesterday, the feeder hasn't been emptied yet like has in the past, when a flock of grackles can eat up all the seeds in just a day. the counterweights did look flimsy though, not sure how well they'll hold in up strong winds. i could probably rig up a sturdier counterweight with a high quality bag, but i think i'm going to call brome tomorrow and get a replacement tube.

returning home, i passed by the cafe to drop off some scented bath & body works foaming hand soaps. i didn't realize my mother had already brought some. we have enough hand soaps to outlast this pandemic. at the time when we bought over 2 dozen during the annual june sale last year we thought we'd gone overboard, but now it's totally worth it. my mother gave me a container of curry rice noodles when i ate for lunch when i got home.

one of the student tenants in my grand uncle's upstairs apartment has been sick for a few days now. he's stopped going to work and has self-quarantined himself in his room. unfortunately he shares it with a roommate, so if one of them gets sick, the other one will as well. not sure if it's just an overactive imagination, or if it's something more serious. he doesn't have some of the coronavirus symptoms, like coughing or fever. to make matters worse, he never got health insurance when he arrived (i thought all harvard students had to have insurance), so even if he wanted to, he can't see a doctor (or have to pay out of pocket, which is very expensive). anyway, big news today was he finally decided to get some online insurance (upon the insistence of his advisor), but not sure now how soon can it be activated.

coronavirus news: just as i thought, the boston marathon has been postponed. i actually thought they'd cancel it outright, but now they're thinking about having it sometime in the fall. a lot of nearby public schools have also closed for the next 2 weeks (happens to coincide with spring vacation), including belmont. somerville, which yesterday notified everyone they'd be closing all schools and public offices until monday, sent out a new notice today that they too are also closing for the next 2 weeks.

later in the afternoon i checked out the backyard bird feeder camera. i noticed the seed level had decreased by an inch, and was afraid maybe the grackles had come back. so i scrubbed the video history to see what was happening earlier. no grackle sighting, but apparently a whole lot of other smaller birds came to the feeder. i saw a bluejay landing on the feeder then quickly flying away; bluejays weigh the same as grackles (4 oz.) so the moment it landed the shroud dropped down, hiding the seed tray. also from the video i saw spotted a pair of carolina wrens, i haven't seen them all winter long. the video quality isn't great, but i noticed some small birds "crawling" on the cage of the birdfeeder. only a few birds can do that: woodpeckers, nuthatches, and wrens. at first i thought they might be nuthatches, but i noticed the distinctive white eyebrows of the carolina wrens.

my 2020 census form arrived in the mail today. i was surprised there wasn't an actual form, but rather just a link and a passcode to fill out the census online. i filled it out immediately, took about a minute.

my father's xiaomi mi band 4 arrived in the mail today. i put a screen protector on it but i don't think it needs one, since it's impossible to get rid of the air bubbles. i'm going to try and give it to him tomorrow, but because of the rain, it might have to wait until the weekend.

today we had the lowest production this month at just 15.98 kWh under a thick grey sky. i thought it'd be sunnier than this but apparently i was wrong. tomorrow doesn't look to be any better, and it's supposed to be raining for much of the day, finally stopping by nightfall. the weekend looks to be sunnier, and sunday and monday are two days of full sun.

i ordered an ANCEL BA101 battery analyzer from amazon today. originally $55, after coupon and reward points, the final price came out to $43. on ebay they sell for a few dollars cheaper, but it's a lot easier returning with amazon. do a search for "battery analyzer" on amazon and there's a model that keeps on showing up, sold under various brand names with slight design variations but it's essentially the same thing. on ebay they sell for around $25, and originally i was going to get one of those, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of options. the BA101 has a lot more features, and from what i saw on youtube, seems to be the better battery analyzer. i got this for my father but i didn't consult him on it first, figuring he'd ask me to get it eventually, especially since he's been playing around with batteries. we have various meters but they only read the voltage and the load amperage; the battery analyzer will let us know the CCA, and can measure the battery in the car as well as out of it. it can answer for us questions like, is this battery any good? or is the desulfator actually doing anything?

kevin came home at 6pm, ate his microwaved dinner, then went to sleep. he got up around 8pm when i was heating some leftover rice and beans. he told me about the coworkers who have already started working from home. he said tomorrow will be his last day in the office, then he'll be working from home for the foreseeable future. i dropped a few hints to let him know i prefer him at the office; i don't think he got any of them. i told him with so many people gone, the empty office is the safest place he can be, especially since his officemate has already vacated. i said unlike some other people, he has an easy commute of simply walking, and doesn't need to ride in a crowded subway car or bus. kevin's answer was the central air heating in his office is interconnected, so if one person has the virus, the entire building gets it, and he said that was how SARS spread. i didn't bother arguing with an astrophysicist that the things he believed in were wrong. after i finished making my dinner, kevin started cooking his lunch and dinner for tomorrow.

i warmed up the rice and beans on the stove. i added some hot water as the rice was a bit dry. i also added some leftover corned beef, which made the bland sludge a little more flavorful.

i ended up booking a morning appointment at the arlington quest diagnostics office for the end of the month. true, it's a lot farther than the union square office, but what the lab technician told me today didn't give me a lot of faith that he's able to perform the test i need. even though arlington is farther, it's a straight shot on the 77 bus. one stipulation of the test is i can't do any exercise beforehand, so biking to union square might constitute an exercise. it's a lot easier just to take the bus to and from arlington.