my mother called this morning offering me a ride, but i told her i could bike since it wasn't that cold. wasn't that cold meant the temperature was only in the 20's, not the 10's like it was last night. i left a little late as i was spooning out the rest of my sichuan paocai. i managed to fill 2 jars, one for myself, one my mother was going to give my aunt.

i didn't arrive in belmont until 12:40pm. for the most part i was fine, but i had to stop midway to change into my wool mittens as my fingers were freezing in the regular gloves. they chopped down some trees at the observatory. i thought cambridge had a moratorium on tree removal? they left the logs behind, a few pieces had diseased hollows, but what amazed me was how much grow the tree had in the past year, must've been well fertilized to get a tree ring several inches wide. i don't remember what type of trees they were, from the bark i'm guess some kind of maple.

i noticed a column of smoke going straight up in the sky. as soon as i arrived in belmont, i took out my drone and flew it in the backyard to get a better look at the smoke column. originally i thought it was coming from the fresh pond water treatment plant, but it looked like it was coming from the everett industrial area. the smoke kept its shape because of the cold weather plus there was hardly any wind today. i took advantage of the windless condition by flying the drone to two houses i saw yesterday: a large parcel of land at 72 payson that the develop demolished the old house and put in its place two new houses; and a mansion at 21 elm street that's tucked away in the middle of a large residential block with a huge backyard with what looks like a man-made pond. the drone was fine but the fly app did freeze at one point but i managed to regain control after a brief wait for the phone to get unstuck. i didn't panic, had plenty of battery life left.

for lunch i had some radish cakes, a leftover piece of air fried ribs, and a cup of instant matcha latte.

in the afternoon i helped my father move the snowblower into the backyard, so it would be ready to go once it started snowing tomorrow (and we wouldn't need to get it out of the garage). he was able to start it without the electrical cord jumpstart, and test blowed some snow on the lawn. the latest forecast is for 6-10" of snow (belmont is probably closer to the high end) beginning tomorrow after noontime and lasting until into much of tuesday where it will transition into rain. the temperature will hover a few degrees above freezing during the daytime, and i can look to clean the solar panels either tuesday afternoon weather permitting or wednesday. i decided to stay home tomorrow, since i didn't want to get stuck in belmont during the heaviest part of the snowstorm.

even though it was still cold, there was no wind, so conditions were ideal for flying. i did another altitude test from the backyard. when i did it yesterday i only had the camera looking down. this time i had it pointed at the horizon. i'd recalibrated the gimbal earlier, and i was happy to see that the horizon was perfectly leveled as i spun around the air.

from that height, i could see the ocean and make out the boston harbor islands, including deer island. even though i had the phone in airplane mode and closed out all my apps, my phone froze more than half a dozen times, the most i've ever experienced in a single flight. fortunately the drone was just above me so i figured if it crashed it would just land right back in the backyard, but still, i'm not sure what was causing it. maybe i switched into airplane mode before connecting to the drone? because a few times it kept on asking me to connect to wifi for some reason. at 400ft i can make out the drone; at higher altitude i could still see it but it was just a pinprick, nearly invisible in the sky.

when i came back inside, my parents were just about finished making another scallion bread in the electric baking pan. i had a few slices once it finished baking.

later i went down to the basement to check on the plants. i found a few fat mealybugs on the jasmine by the shelved wall; i dabbed them with alcohol then sprayed suspected spots with neem oil. the gardenia seems to be getting more mealybugs, especially at the emerging flowerbuds. those used to be attractive to aphids but now mealybugs have gotten in on the action. i sprayed all the flowerbuds with neem oil, but i feel like it could use a more thorough deep spraying, maybe bring it upstairs and drench it in neem oil. i'm still not quite sure if neem oil is effective against mealybugs. it seems to work on the aphids though, keeps them in check although they still come back. next i sprayed the cactus tips, which aphids seem to love. i sprayed the two hot peppers; the smaller one had some aphids, the larger one seems aphid free but i put in the box and gave it a good spray. the small potted jasmine in the terracotta pot had some emerging mealybug infestation that i wiped with alcohol before spraying with neem. i also found a few mealybugs on the jasmine in the far left corner, i used the alcohol-neem combo. the other jasmines seemed to be of mealybugs for the time being. what i'm really hoping for is to get one of those warm winter days, temperature in the 50-60's, so i can temporarily move out all the plants and give them a deep neem oil spray. the setup we have now, it's hard to do a deep spray without getting neem oil everywhere.

my father cooked up some more air fried ribs. we had them with scallion bread and a bowl of mung bean soup.

i returned to cambridge a bit after 7pm. the column of smoke was still prominent on the horizon. though it seemed near, it was actually several miles away. the wind had picked up slightly, now instead of a column it looked like a giant white tadpole tethered to the ground. when i got back home, i put the bike away in the basement. with the amount of snow we're looking to get, my riding days will be on a temporary hiatus until we can get a significant snowmelt.

i stuffed my empty paocai jar with fresh vegetables: chinese cabbage, carrots, daikon radish. i also added more chili peppers and peppercorn. in traditional sichuan cuisine you reuse the liquids to ferment subsequent batches of paocai. there wasn't enough water so i made 5 cups of hot brine (adding 2 ounces of salt), waited a few hours for it to cool to room temperature before pouring everything into the jar.