i thought maybe this morning i could assemble my sichuan paocai but i realized i made a few mistakes. first, i didn't cool enough boiled water. i had a half-filled 5-qt pot which only had 9 cups of water when i need at least 18. second, i totally forgot to create the brine. i could add salt to the cold water, but salt dissolved better in warm/hot water. i ended up transferring what water i had into a stainless stock pot, and then added some more boiled water to create 18 cups. i dissolved in 6 oz. of salt and left everything to cool. i then sanitized the jars by mixing a gallon of water with 2tbsp of bleach. i wore dishwashing gloves and scrubbed the inside and outside of the jars with the diluted bleach. i sanitized the paocai jar and the 2 fido jars (4L and 5L). i rinsed everything with water and set them upside down to dry.

i was in belmont by noontime, where my mother made some pho-flavored beef broth noodles for lunch.

i went flying today, the first time i've flown after updating the dji fly app to 1.2.2 (side loading on android, it's still not available in the google store for some reason). there some behind-the-scenes improvements, but the thing i really wanted to see was the new navigation interface. it shows where the drone is in relationship to the pilot and the location of the home point. it also shows the orientation of the drone, whether it's tilting to the sides or up and down (things you can't tell from camera because the image is gimbal-stabilized).

i flew down to the park, over parts of fresh pond golf course, over the farm, towards the direction of the high school. i wanted to see how far i can go before i start losing signal. i can't make it as far as the high school itself (signal was dangerously close to being lost), but close enough to see the pond. i then flew back by burbank school, but instead of coming home, i kept going, towards watertown, in the direction of the arsenal mall.

i was halfway to the arsenal mall before the fly app gave me an "RC connection lost" warning. i positioned myself around the backyard to get a better view of the sky and i managed to reestablished connection and fly the drone back home. i still haven't yet had the mini 2 automatically initiate a return-to-home with a signal loss so i don't know if this safety feature even works. i've had many occasions where the app crashes on me, and i've had to wait for as long as a minute to get back into the app, but never once has the drone returned to home on its own. today was actually the very first time where i flew far enough that there was an actual full RC signal loss, but even then it didn't RTH, maybe because i regained connection within the 10 seconds countdown before it returns home. i could test it by flying it in a large parking lot and turning off the RC controller and see if the drone will return to home. i believe it has to be 20m away to do an auto RTH.

when the drone came in for a landing i had it land on the square piece of plywood i've been using as a launching pad. ever since i sliced my finger bloody trying to land the drone on my hand, i've been kind of scared to do any hand landing. the flight data said i flew for a total distance of 4.45km (2.77 miles) with a duration of 21 minutes, the longest (by distance) i've ever flown.

my father's passport is due to expire in march so i helped him fill out a DS-82 renewal form. the cost for renewal is $110 but the hard part is getting a recent photo. i could take the photo but my father wanted to get a haircut before that happened. after my mother gave him a trim, she gave me a haircut as well. i haven't had a haircut since june. i usually get a haircut twice a year, once in the spring, once in the fall. the spring haircut is so it won't get hot with all that haircut, the fall haircut is so i can grow out my hair again during the winter to keep my head warm.

we tried taking some passport photos but it was already too late in the day and not enough daylight. i couldn't use the flash because it created too much shadows. we decided to wait until tomorrow, when it wasn't so dark.

around sunset i went out for another flight with the drone. i wanted to fly to our old house, a distance of less than 500m, short work for the mini 2 (the farthest i can fly without losing connection has been 3km so far). i also wanted to go there because i discovered a while back someone living on that street might have an operating 222MHz repeater. i tried searching for a possible antenna but didn't see anything. returning home, i did a big loop. i stopped to grab some sunset photos. it's hard, because if the sky is properly exposed, the ground is too dark, and if the ground is properly exposed, the sky gets too bright. maybe if i took a raw image i could fiddle around with the exposure settings but i don't know how to take a raw file yet on my drone.

for dinner my father pan-fried a fish a family friend had given them. she makes sushi and always has a bunch of leftover fish heads for them. in the bag was also a fish they'd never seen before. we looked it up, most likely it's a florida (common) pompano. it's a flat fish with lots of oil and big bones that are easy to clean out. white-fleshed, despite being oily, wasn't particularly fishy.

sichuan paocai (四川泡菜)(7L paocai jar &
4L fido jar)

5.8 lbs. chinese cabbage
3.2 lbs. daikon radish
2.5 lbs. carrots
6 oz. ginger
48 thai chili peppers
18 cups boiled water
6 oz. salt
1 handful sichuan peppercorns
1/4 cup chinese baijiu
8 tbsp rock sugar

when i returned home i started making the sichuan paocai around 8:30pm. i gathered all the vegetables and additional ingredients.

i discovered the chinatown ginger i'd bought a few days ago had already gone moldy. half of the ginger smelled rotten, but the other half was still good after i peeled the skin with a spoon. i peeled the carrots and daikon radishes and cut them into wedges. i trimmed the stems from 4 dozen frozen thai chili peppers. i chopped the chinese cabbages into square chunks. i then started layering the vegetables into the paocai jar and fido jar. a layer of cabbage, a layer of chili peppers and peppercorns and rock sugar, a layer of sliced ginger, then a layer of carrots and radishes. i had enough vegetables to fill both jars exactly. unfortunately i didn't have enough brine. i thought i made 18 cups but it turned out to be 16 cups. the fido jar took 7 cups to fill but 9 cups wasn't enough for the sichaun paocai jar. i made 6 more cups of brine (adding 2 oz. of salt to hot water) and waited for the water to cool down (i put the hot brine into a larger stockpot filled with cold water to make it cool faster). when it finally did, i just added an additional 2 cups before the paocai jar was filled. it was nearly 10:30pm before i finished.

this was my first time using the sichuan paocai jar. 7L is a lot bigger than my biggest glass container (5L fido jars). i kind of don't like the shape, it doesn't have that tapered bottom and wider lid ring which is the more traditional shape. but a wide base means it's more stable and less chance of additional tipping over. this one is good for the time being.

there were 3 more NFL playoff games today: ravens beat the titans, saints beat the bears, and the marquee prime time game was between the browns and the steelers. i like both teams and wished they could both advance, but the browns story makes them hard to root against, having not been in the playoffs for 17-years. the game was basically over by the first quarter, when cleveland scores 28-0 against pittsburgh. that's the first quarter, which set a new NFL playoff record as the most points in the opening quarter. i wasn't paying attention to the game after that, but to the steelers credit, they clawed back, and made the game competitive. but the football gods favored the browns tonight, and they won the game with a final score of 48-37.