today was the first day to do some setup tasks for the predict 2 study ("personalized responses to dietary composition trial 2"), including the fun job of collecting stool and saliva samples. they give you a few days to collect, for people with irregular bowel movements. i am fortunate enough to have a gastrointestinal system that performs like clockwork. so i decided to collect the samples today, just to get it out of the way (and the fact that kevin had already left for the office by 9am).
i started with the stool sample first, the harder specimen to collect. i followed the instructions in the predict 2 phone app. essentially you poop over a napkin hammock that you tape over your toilet seat to catch the stool. then using a tiny spoon, you scoop out a sample (the size of a pea they tell me) and put it into a special test tube filled with preservation fluid. normally my poop doesn't smell so terrible (although i've may become noseblind to my own stink), but this morning was especially ripe, mainly because i ate so much meat last night. the stool was stubborn, but i finally managed to get a sizable deposit on my collection spoon.
once that was done, i continued my poop business while making a saliva sample (multi-tasking). at first i thought it'd be impossible to fill up the length of the test tube with spit, but it just looks long, the actual collection area is about a centimeter. after a few spits, i managed to get it up to the fill level. i capped the tube, which released preservation fluid to mix with the saliva. i capped and shook the tube then put it away along with the stool sample.
the final thing i had to do was to take a waist/hip measurement with a measuring tape. i thought i knew my waist size just from buying pants, but was surprised to find i was a few inches fatter than what i thought i was. i haven't noticed it in the pants i wear though, so who knows which is the correct measurement. the only other specimens i need to make are a trio of blood samples on thursday and saturday, i'm not looking forward to those, i'm not so good with stabbing myself with a needle until i bleed.
after a shower, i left for belmont close to noontime, stopping at a few pokestops to collect balls. i feel so self-conscious when i'm "playing" pokemon go, i try to hide the fact as much as i can, pretending i'm checking directions, or maybe answering a text message, anything other than playing a children's game.
first thing i did when i arrived in belmont was to charge up the toyota battery with the batteryMINDer. not only will it trickle charge, but more importantly it will also desulfate the battery, which we can later confirm with the battery analyzer. i took an initial reading which gave me the same result as yesterday: replace the battery, low CCA. hopefully a charge and desulfate treatment will improve the health of the battery.
after lunch i baked a pan of hazelnuts in the toaster oven. these are one of my favorite wintertime snacks. they're harder to find these days, hazelnuts are associated with the holiday season, and it's already close to springtime. whenever i see them available at the supermarket though, i'll grab a bag or two.
my father and i retested the marine deep cycle battery in the basement. when we checked it yesterday, the charge voltage was low. i hooked it back up to the 100W solar panel. not only did it up the health score (96%), it also increased the CA a little bit. of course it's not an accurate test as the battery was actively charging from the panel; only after the battery is fully charged, and detached from the panel, can we get an accurate reading with the analyzer.
while we were in the basement we also watered all the basement plants with some blue-colored miracle-gro fertilizing solution. normally we'd only water with Bti-infused water, but this was a one time deal, to give the plants some food, especially the jasmines and gardenia, which seemed like they could use some plant food besides the ample amount of grow light. we also found at least 2 lady bugs living in our basement grow room. this is a good sign, because the lady bugs will eat the aphids, the more the better. not sure how they got in though, maybe it was during that one day when we had our plants sunning in the backyard.
2 ounces of fishing weight is too heavy for the squirrel buster feeder; the shroud seems to be always covering half the tray when no birds are perched on it. so i ended up replacing that weight with a lighter 1 ounce weight. that seemed to be better, and when i simulated 3.5 oz. of bird weight on the perch, the shroud hid the seed tray completely. hopefully it'll bring back the birds, we didn't see any today, but that's often the case when the weather is nice, the birds seem to go elsewhere. only on days after a storm do i see a lot of bird activity. only birds i saw today was a mourning dove lurking around the raised bed, i think it may try to nest there, so seemingly out in the open seems like a bad place to build a nest.
when the evening news came around governor charlie baker was holding another press conference. he announced that schools across massachusetts would be closed for 3 weeks, and likewise all bars and restaurants. restaurants can still open, but no sit-down service, only takeout or deliveries. my father said they'd close the cafe during that period, not sure if he was serious or not. they'd already decreased the business hours and closed on weekends. anymore cutbacks would mean closing the cafe.
a full day of brisk mid-march sunshine and we managed to produce 45.94kWh of electricity, another new record for 2020. all of last year march 2019 we never broke 45kWh, and in march 2018 we only broke 45kWh in the final days of the month. it helps that we have no clipping issues. i'm excited to see what other production surprises will occur the rest of the month. according to projections, if we keep going at the same rate, we may tie last year's record but i'm hoping we'll beat it.
once again, the house was dark even though kevin was home. i didn't even bother checking the router client list, i just knew he was sleeping in his room, just like yesterday. i heard him while i was in the bathroom. during a brief period when we were both in the kitchen, i asked him if he managed to get ahold of his advisor this sunday, to ask about a temporary leave of absence from his PhD program to go home to china for a few months because of the coronavirus scare. he told me he changed his mind and decided to stay for the time being; the biggest drawback of returning home was the mandatory 2 week quarantine for anyone arriving from overseas. the chinese government picks you up at the airport, locks you up somewhere for 14 days, and then expects you to pay for the privilege. i'm a little disappointed he's not leaving, i'd already psyched myself up for the eventually of solo living again. but i also don't mind him staying for another 1-2 months, even if he does work from home for the next few weeks (i'm optimistic it will be 2 weeks at most), mostly because that's additional rent money.