the mung beans this morning was this tight bundle of sprouts about 2 inches thick. some of the roots growing at the bottom are now long enough to reach the bottom of the plastic bowl. i watered it twice: once when i woke up, one more when i left for belmont, since i'd be gone for nearly 8 hours.

before i left for belmont, i checked my e-mail and discovered my aunt and uncle had sent me an amazon gift card for my birthday. also a few distant friends were wishing me a happy birthday as well.

i biked to my parents' place, temperature a balmy high 50's. i wore a jacket but immediately regretted my decision, and kept looking for a place where i can stop and take it off, but i ended up wearing it the whole route because i didn't want to stop. i'll definitely need a jacket tonight, when the temperature will drop into the lower 40's and be a few degrees below freezing for the rest of tomorrow.

i brought with me 3 jars of old jiuniang that'd been sitting in my fridge. despite being more than a year old, none of them seemed to have any old, so all were still edible. i brought them because it's a birthday tradition to eat 2 eggs in the morning (on my mother's side of the family anyway), and i thought they'd go better with some sweet fermented glutinous rice. i also brought some year old glutinous rice balls i'd made.

i opened the one labeled "feb 8 2021" first. it was sweet it tasted like honey. this one i used half a packet of angel rice leaven with slow ferment (as opposed to pressure cooker ferment) and took 3 days to mature.

moving on, i opened "2020-12-12", the oldest jar. there was a lot more liquid in this one, and the rice seemed hollow, not solid like the previous jar. it tasted slightly sweet, bitter, with a strong flavor of alcohol. i made this using half a yeast ball and used the yogurt low temperature setting on the instant pot to incubate the inoculated glutinous rice for 24 hours. as i recall, using the instant pot makes faster jiuniang, but the final result is less sweet and more alcoholic. it may also have something to do with using yeast balls instead of angel rice leaven, yeast ball ferments result in heavier alcohol jiuniang as well.

finally i tried jar "feb 23 2021". i opened the jar and immediately it didn't smell right. jiuniang has a distinctive odor, but this one smelled like an antiseptic hospital, smelled medical. there was also a layer of white yeast growing on the top which i spooned off so i could try the jiuniang underneath. it was sweet, but it also an off taste, like acetone, so i spit it right out. that jar has gone bad and i ended up throwing it outside into the compost bin. that jar was made from a batch of 3 jars, when i was trying to make more than 2 jars at a time. despite making 3 jars, i still used half a packet (4g) of angel rice leaven. i don't think that made any difference, but just reporting the result.

so i had my 2 eggs with jiuniang for lunch. the fermented glutinous rice was sweet enough as is that no additional sugar needed to be added. my mother cooked some of the glutinous rice balls i made, but it was still powdery on the inside, so she scooped them out to cook again. my father ended up taking over, and even after a long simmer then soaked for another half hour, the glutinous rice balls never managed to reconstitute. they were simply too old, too desiccated, to make edible again. i also had an egg tart pastry my 2nd aunt had bought.

i found out my father's making a batch of fermented glutinous rice. i suggested he could use the heat mat, which he was already using, wrapped around his container of jiuniang, encased in a foam yoga mat.

i had to contact my webhosting customer support because i could get into any of my websites today. the fix took just a minute, the sysadmin discovered a server update hadn't been pushed through. once that was cleared, all my websites were back online.

because it was so warm outside, i moved the mealybug tainted jasmine into the backyard and gave it a more thorough spraying with neem oil. i made a new bottle of neem afterwards. i also inspected the gardenia, found a few small mealybugs on the tender tips which i killed with alcohol-soaked cotton swabs.

my father and i tried the epever ebox-wifi-01 which arrived yesterday. it's supposed to attach to our HQST MPPT solar charge controller and allow us to access the data remotely via wifi from anywhere in the world. the box itself was smaller than i thought. the only other thing it came with was a coil of what looked to be ethernet cable (actually RS485). the device is powered via this cable. when we went down into the basement to plug it in, we realized the RS485 on the MPPT uses a RJ25 jack (6 lines) while the ebox-wifi-01's RS484 takes a RJ45 jack (8 lines); the RS485 was not compatible.

i then went search for a converter cable, but it doesn't exist. also HQST provides no information on how its RS485 is used, so even if we were able to make our own connector cable, we don't know which wires on the ebox-wifi-01 corresponds to which wires on the MPPT. our only hope is maybe one day HQST will create a wifi dongle for its MPPT controllers. another solution would be to get an RS485 to USB cable, so i can read the data outputs. it's simple in theory, but difficult in practice.

so my mother decided we'd eat hot pot tonight in honor of my 48th birthday. that's why this week i was stressing to go to chinatown to get some hot pot ingredients but my mother said she had everything already. probably the only thing we were missing was tripe, which is one of my hot pot favorites. we had everything basically ready to go - broth simmering on the conduction cooker in the dining room - by 4pm, which was when my sister closed up the cafe. but she said she was going on a walk with her korean friend before arriving. we ended up waiting nearly 2 hours for her to finally show up by 6pm, by then we were already ready to eat with or without her.

so the reason why we don't eat hot pot more often is it stinks up the house. this time i brought out our holmes air purifier and ran it at its highest setting while we ate, hoping it'd circulate the air and get rid of at least some of the smells. i also put all our jackets into one of the bedrooms and closed the door.

because my sister doesn't eat spicy, we always have to use the double pot, so half is plain while the other half is hot. the spicy hot pot base we used this time, my father said it was very good and saved the package so we can get it again. we only used half the packet, but scooped more into the pot whenever the spiciness started to diminish. other than the lamb and some vegetables, we didn't have a whole lot of fresh ingredients. it was also a way for my mother to empty some stuff from the freezer and the cupboard: variety of frozen meat balls, expired canned quail eggs, canned enokitoki mushrooms.

after dinner, my sister brought out a tiramisu cake she'd bought. i didn't want any cake but i do like tiramisu and it was pretty good. i biked back to cambridge around 8pm.

despite measures, all my clothes still reeked of hot pot. so i threw them all into laundry hamper and took a shower, changing into some fresh clothes.

i was waiting for the start of women's freeski slopestyle, witness eileen gu take that next step in winning another gold medal for team china. it was supposed to start at 9pm local time, but then got postponed to 11pm. when 11pm came around, the announced the event had to be completely rescheduled to the next day due to poor weather. it wasn't because of the wind, actually it was the snow accumulation making the course dangerous for the athletes. history will have to wait!