it was pointless going to sleep, since i planned on waking up at 3:30am anyway to bike down to the MIT bridge across the charles river to see if i could catch a glimpse of comet NEOWISE. so i simply stayed up, and around 3:30am i got out of bed to check the weather condition. i didn't think it'd rain, but it was cloudy, it'd be a waste of time going. unfortunately i couldn't get a clear enough view of the sky from around my house so i ended up walking out to the star market parking lot to get a better sense of the sky conditions. clouds obscured a crescent moon, but there were still patches of clear sky. i decided to take a gamble, figured i was up anyway. i gathered up my camera equipment along with the tripod and biked down to the mass ave bridge by 4am.
it didn't take long to get there, just 13 minutes since there was zero traffic. i didn't even bother wearing a helmet, figured it probably was the safest time to ride in the city. though there weren't any cars, there were still plenty of critters, and out of the corner of my eye i spotted sparrows fluttering around (the bright artificial lights trick them into thinking its daylight), rabbits hoping, and at one point a rat scurrying across the road.
i didn't know what to expect when i got to the bridge. i saw two young indian guys wearing masks on the bridge who were about to leave. i walked about a third across the bridge and set up my tripod. it was mostly cloudy, but i still had hope. with a long exposure, even if there was a glimmer of the comet, i'd be able to capture it. unfortunately it was so cloudy i couldn't even see stars, couldn't like for the auriga constellation that would point in me the direction of the comet. the only thing in the sky was the moon that would be intermittently hidden by clouds and a very bright star in the northeast.
the sky was about to change colors. i figured at the very least i could take some nice sunrise photos, and sunrises are at their most beautiful when there are some clouds to play around with the colors. i don't take out the tripod often enough, but it's great for night photography, every single shot a clear shot, the hardest part is waiting for the long exposure to finish capturing. i brought a bunch of lenses: 55-250mm (telephoto), 10-22mm (wide), 28mm (prime), even the 18-55mm (midrange). i used them all with the exception of the prime lens.
around the 45 minute mark, just when i was about to finish up, realizing i wasn't going to see the comet with all the clouds, the two indian guys came back. "are you here for the comet too?" one of them asked. i recognized them as fellow nerds, most likely MIT nerds as well, essentially harmless. we chatted a bit. i learned that the bright star was actually venus, which was where i was pointing the camera, but northeast is actually 40° to the left of that "shiny" star. tall buildings on the cambridge side obscured the horizon, even had i been looking at the right direction, i wouldn't have been able to see anything. one of the guys said they were coming back tomorrow, when the weather is supposed to be clear, to try to see if i could spot the comet. they were thinking about standing on the far end of the bridge on the boston side, with the hopes of being able to look over the buildings. they asked for my name, i asked for theirs, they gave me two indian names, i told them i wasn't going to remember that.
with that i got back on my bike and returned home. there were a few cars, mostly semi trucks, and construction guys getting ready for work. my tripod was bashing away in my rear basket, i didn't even consider it might get damaged. when i finally got home, i saw a bunch of nicks and scratches on my equipment.
it was around 5am. i took a shower (sweaty from the biking) then hopped into bed. i read until 6am before finally going to sleep. i slept for 4 hours, waking up at 10am. around noontime i left for belmont.
my california aunt carolina has been extolling the virtues of the air fryer for weeks. i kept hearing stories of how much she's been raving about it, and everyone in her family has one. we looked into it briefly, but it seemed a waste of kitchen counter space for something that can be just as easily done in a convection oven. but my aunt ended up buying one for my mother, on the pretense that this was a gift in honor of their recent cafe reopening.
today my mother received the dash deluxe air fryer in aqua with a 6qt capacity ($80). it looked like a huge teal egg with the top sliced off, with a handle in the front that pulls out a drawer where the food goes. the controls took very easy and basic: a dial for temperature and another dial for the time, nothing like a pressure cooker with its various buttons and control settings. if i had to pick between the two popular kitchen appliances, i'd pick the pressure cooker since it seems to be able to do more.
my parents were test cooking some raw sweet potato fries since they didn't have any frozen french fries on hand, the default test food whenever i see an air fryer demonstration. i could smell it as soon as i entered the house, this sort of sweet crispy fragrance. my father overcooked the fries, they looked a little charred and a bit shriveled. they tasted okay, if you can get over the slight bitter charred taste. i ended up eating all of fries.
an air fryer is basically a convection oven that has the cooked food sitting on an elevated rack so the released oils will dry off instead of cooking the food. you can simulate this easily in a regular convection oven by cooking on top of a rack. i'm going to say we use the air fryer as a novelty device to make a few things before it gets relegated down in the basement along with the other unused kitchen appliances.
anticipating whether it'll rain or not seems to be a new hobby this summer. it seems like almost every time a rain storm passes through the area, it managed to miss boston completely but rain everywhere else. it's almost like boston has a force field that causes rain clouds to go around the city. so i was naturally excited when i saw rain drops pelting the windows around 2pm.
as soon as i got ready to go outside with the umbrella to see how much rain water we would be collecting, the rain had stopped. it rained for just a few minutes, albeit a brief downpour, with emphasis on the brief. while i was taking videos of the rain barrels collecting water from the downspouts the sun was already shining. my father kept saying that had it rained for 5 straight minutes, it would've been enough to fill all our rain barrels. unfortunately, it probably only rained 2 minutes. still, that was enough to raise the water level in the barrels by two palm widths, enough water for a few days at least. good news is tomorrow looks to be similar as today, sporadic downpours. maybe belmont will get lucky and get some rain long enough to fill the barrels.