another thing that broke when i upgraded from high sierra to mojave: utorrent. technically it should work (utorrent is only 32-bit) but the app would immediately quit after opening. i ended up downloading transmission. the user interface isn't as slick as utorrent, but it works just the same. the one feature i like about transmission is the auto-resizing download window.
after a matcha latte and some leftover scallion bread for lunch, i joined a harvard zoom lecture titled "China's Corrupt Meritocracy" at 12:30pm. the gist of the talk basically said that despite corruption within the government, china's economy is still booming in this "gilded age" and that some forms of corruption - like pay money to hurdle red tape or influence peddling - actually helps to get richer. the speaker was careful not to point any fingers at the currently ruling politburo, but during the Q&A several questions were more pointed. the speaker did confess that the anti-corruption campaign is strongly politically-oriented, and that all the government officials who've been arrested for corruption didn't have a benefactor to bail them out of trouble.
the lecture was pretty much over by 1:30pm and i signed off early to get ready to ride up to medford center to visit ebisuya, the nearest japanese market, to look for amazake and koji rice. today was a good day for it, not only was the weather warm (temperature in the upper 40's) but it was also hinamatsuri - girls' day in japan - where they traditionally drink amazake in celebration.
while i was putting on my jacket and calling my father to let him know about my sister's godmother's internet installation status, i was looking out the window and saw two young men riding their bikes down the street. one of them stopped, walked up to my neighbor's porch, and reemerged with a package. i hung up on my father and quickly ran out and shouted, "drop it!" like i was commanding a disobedient dog. i scared him and he quickly dropped the box onto the street as he hopped on his bike and pedaled away with his friend. i ran into the street to grab the package and put it back on the porch. my neighbor franz must've heard the commotion and popped out of his house to tell me his wife jen saw the whole thing as well.
i called the cambridge police to report what happened. it happened so fast, i didn't get too many details, just the two young men were wearing scarf masks and wearing knitted caps, and the one that had grabbed the box was black. he officer asked if i'd be willing to speak with another officer who was coming by and i said sure. i called my father, who was wondering what was happening, and told him about the porch pirates. a few minutes later a cop in an SUV showed up, i repeated what i told the officer on the phone. the SUV cop said he'd drive around the neighborhood some more, but didn't see the two suspects. the last thing i did was to knock on my opposite neighbor's door (they were home because all the cars were in the driveway) and told her what happened and asked her to bring in her package.
i finally left by 2:15pm. i packed my drone with me, in case i found a good spot to do some flying. i adjusted my bike seat and realigned the front wheel. i noticed the bike was rubbing up against something, most likely the rear brake pads, one of which has already been worn done to the nub, i'll need to replace them at some point. medford center isn't all that far, about the same distance to my parent's place, but the difficulty is having to traverse the hills of somerville to get there. i was so winded pedalling up the hill that at one point i had to pull off my face mask so i could breathe and not hyperventilate.
i arrived at ebisuya a little after 20 minutes. i made a beeline to the beverage fridge but couldn't find any amazake. i ended up asking one of the cashiers, who showed me where it was, located in the miso paste refrigerator. there was two kind - ready-to-drink and concentrate amazake that you mix with water first. the ready-to-drink amazake was something like $8-9, i went with the cheaper concentrated option which was $6.89. i also bought two cans of choya soda (umesshu and yuzu, $2.69 each). i was getting ready to unlock my bike when i remembered something and went back to ebisuya. i asked if they had any koji rice. once again, it was located in the miso fridge, and there were two varieties - a paste that can in a large tub "for marinating" the clerk told me, and some dried inoculated rice in a smaller container. that koji rice was $4.50. i didn't buy it because i currently don't have a temperature-controlled fermentation appliance, maybe one day when i buy my own instant pot i'll spring for the fancier version with temperature control and then i can make all the amazake i want.
i left by 2:50pm. i was tempted to do some drone flying over the mystic river, and saw a group of shy merganser ducks, but i was afraid of dropping the drone into the water so decided against it. coming home, i made several detours onto playground fields, looking for places to fly. they either had people already using the field or were too muddy to fly. i ended up coming home without getting to use my drone.
i got home by 3:20pm. i called my mother, asking her if she was nervous for her 5:20pm pfizer vaccination appointment at fenway park. they were leaving at 4pm, driving into boston. i knew they had left because i could track their phone in google maps.
i tried the choya umesshu drink. it was okay, but nothing to write home about. in the late afternoon around 5pm i decided to prepare the amazake. earlier i'd google translated the hell out of the instructions, and at the store i even asked the clerks how to prepare it. the directions had a very specific amount of 640cc of boiled water. i measured out exactly that amount and poured it into the pot. once it was boiling, i added the concentrated amazake paste. i did taste it beforehand, it tasted sweet and malty. that when i noticed that malted rice was one of the three ingredients, the other being rice and salt. did i get malted amazake by accident? or do all amazake taste malty? i cooked the amazake until all the paste was broken up. i then tasted it again. it was milder, but still sweet, the malt flavor much less now but still discernable. i waited for it to cool down before pouring the whole thing into a 1 quart jar and putting it in the fridge.
for dinner i made two more english muffin capicola sandwiches. there was nothing good on television so i just watched more old dream on episodes. later in the evening i ordered some seeds from rareseeds.com. i only needed a japanese eggplant and ground cherries, but ended up getting 4 different flowers seeds (mixed stocks, giant asters, nigella, cherokee sunset rudbeckia). as for the eggplants, i didn't go with my usual japanese variety (with the all black stems), instead i got a variety called ping tung with originated in taiwan. the seeds are due to arrive in 10-14 days with free shipping.