i woke up around 11am after having gone to bed at 4am. the only thing waiting for me was a day of snow shoveling and some photo taking. when i looked out the living room window by noontime, i saw neighbors already shoveling their sidewalks and digging out their cars. i quickly made some breakfast - another egg & bacon sandwich sprinkled with some everything bagel seasoning and some guava juice.
i was surprised to see my upstairs neighbor steve shoveling for a change. usually i'm the one who shovels while they pretend not to be home. steve was almost done with the front of the house, i volunteered to do the back. paul was clearing the deck and ended up pushing snow onto the cleared path, which i then had to shovel again.
how much snow did we get? the official boston count was
14" 13.1". as advertised, it was light powdery snow, but the very bottom layer had been compacted and was a little wet.
i finally tasted my fermenting jiu niang. since yesterday i'd moved them into the bathroom because it was the hottest room in the house. i started the ferment monday night and since last night there was already enough liquid to floating the glutinous rice. my expectations were low, because when i opened one of the jars on tuesday, it already smelled sour, so i wasn't hopefully of success. so i was very surprised when i tasted not sourness but sweetness. not honey sweet, but sweet enough like rice pudding. i called my parents to break the good news and to let them know i was taking the bus to belmont so i could clear the snow from the solar panels.
i left for harvard square around 2pm, caught the 73 bus outside of the post office to belmont. while cambridge folks for the most part shoveled their sidewalks, belmont folks are not as responsible, and i had to walk out into the streets a few times because the walkways hadn't been cleared yet. it was still snowing, but mostly flurries by that point, nothing substantial. i could even see brief breaks in the clouds.
after having some scallion bread, my father and i went out back to clear the snow from the solar panels. while my father started working, i grabbed my drone and sent it up in the air to do some reconnaissance. gone are the days of surveying the snowy solar panel conditions from the step ladder! but flying conditions were a little challenging. first, it was still snowy a little bit, and the DJI mini 2 is not waterproof in the least. second, there was some strong winds, and the higher up i sent the drone, the strong it got. the fly app kept giving me wind warnings and advised me to bring the drone back. finally, the temperature. the DJI mini 2 is only rated for 32°F and it was definitely colder than that. the fly app also sent me temperature warnings. while i was in the air, i also took a look around the neighborhood, admiring the snowy landscape. using cinema speed and readjusting some of the settings, i took a slow 360°F view from the sky before coming down. in the park i saw children sledding. i was tempted to send the drone to have a closer look, but the poor flying conditions combined with the slightly illegality of flying a drone over people much less children made me decide otherwise.
there was only an hour of daylight left, which wasn't enough time to clear the panels as we eventually realized. typically we can clear a few inches of snow on the panels in half an hour. this latest snowstorm was a bit more substantial. at first we tried clearing the bottom of the panels, but we weren't making very much progress. i managed to clear less than half of the panels on the sunroom, but the rest was impossible to get to with ladders. the only solution was for me to climb onto the roof. normally my father would object vehemently, but he seemed to realize that was the only way to clear all that snow.
i climbed up from the side of the house, actually slipped a few times, grabbing onto an exhaust pipe saved me from sliding off the roof. i first shoveled a trench above the sunroom, then using the foam roof rake began pushing snowy icebergs off of the sunroom solar panels. we only discovered this technique around sunset. it took us another hour to clear the rest. the snow on the rest of the room was more challenging, simply because there was so much. i had to use a combination of shovel and roof rake. the western edge of the roof was especially difficult, snow drift had piled up closer to 2ft worth of snow, and using the roof rake fully extended, the snow pile barely budged. it was starting to get dark anyway, we finally decided to call it a day, hoping that some sun tomorrow will melt some of the snow, we did the best we could.
before i went inside, i grabbed my drone again to get a photo of our solar panel snow removal progress. i also tried to look around a bit from the sky, but the fly app was most unhappy, with the wind and cold temperature combined with the dark conditions. it's actually easier to see the drone when it's dark because of the lights, but i brought the drone back and went inside the house.
my aunt's nexus 7 (second generation) replacement lithium-ion battery arrived today. since i had some time before dinner, i cracked open her tablet and replaced the old battery which can no longer hold a charge. the hardest part was just opening the case, i didn't want to crack the fragile screen bevel which already had some micro cracks from previous drops. the old nexus 7 battery itself was fairly easy to remove, compared to replacing the battery on an iphone or a macbook pro. the new battery booted up right away, but the battery was only at 15%, though it meant the new battery was successful.
the news said today's snowstorm was the 4th largest december storm in boston's history. thanks to my blog archive, i can pull up the post for the 1st (2010) and 2nd (2003) largest december snowstorms of all time. in terms of snowfall amount, you'd have to go back to march 2018 to experience a bigger snowstorm, almost 2 years ago.
after dinner my father gave me a ride back to cambridge. originally i said i wanted to take the bus, but i was tired and sore from working on the solar panels, i appreciated not having to wait in the cold for the bus, though i wouldn't have mind having an excuse to walk around harvard square looking for photo ops.
later in the evening i tried the jiu niang again. i put one jar in the fridge as a test to see if the one left outside would get any sweeter. this is entirely subjective, and both are sweet, but the one outside (still fermenting in the bathroom) seemed a bit sweeter.