my father came to pick me up at 11am so we could go to my sister's godmother's apartment in central square. i was helping her make a phone call to inquire about her monthly benefits, which was abruptly closed without any reason. i first showed her the website and got her to make an account, so she could submit future paperwork online and look up benefit info (they have an app for that as well but it's mostly read-only). i then called the department. the automated message told me there'd be a 25 minute wait, which i was ready for. i had the call on speaker so everyone could hear.

we probably only wait about 10 minutes before we got an agent. earlier i found out the reason why the benefit had stopped was because my sister's godmother didn't submit some relevant forms and paperwork. however, on their own website, they said they'd already received the documents a month ago. when i spoke with the agent (katie), she said it was because it was missing proof of occupation. but i had a copy of the employment letter, which was sent as well. sure enough, when katie looked through the files, she found the "missing" letter. she said she'd reinstate the benefits effective immediately. problem solved!

turns out my sister's godmother didn't even need to be there since the agent didn't need to speak with her, but it was still good to be there to get her to sign up for an online account (the website is even multilingual, as well as the call center, including chinese).

before we left, my sister's godmother showed us the roborock S6 robot vacuum her daughter bought her when she returned from taiwan a few months ago. the robot can even mop the floor if you fill the liquid well inside. a vacuum robot works in her apartment because she doesn't have any carpeting, just bare floors.

my father and i left for belmont via memorial drive along the charles river. we almost witnessed a high-speed head-on collision when an impatient driver suddenly swerved into the wrong lane on mt.auburn street at a red light to cross fresh pond parkway. it was also there that i saw some striking altostratus undulatus clouds in the sky (i thought they were mammatus at first). i was hoping the clouds would keep in the sky by the time we reached belmont so i could take some photos with the drone, but unfortunately they were mostly faded by then.

ever since we installed the AC 80-260V 100A CRS-022B multimeter into the basement electric panel, my father's been monitoring how much electricity the hot water tank uses, going down to the basement periodically to read the data. since last night about 8pm, the hot water tank has already used up 4.3kWh heating up the water. my father was surprised just how much electricity it uses. actually, based on the usage estimate that came with the heater, it's actually supposed to use 4622 kWh of electricity annually, which comes out to over 12kWh per day.

my mother made some rice noodles for lunch with the leftover beef broth from last night. after i finished eating, i helped her book covid testing appointments for both my 2nd aunt and herself for the sunday before they leave for taiwan. my 2nd aunt went to go see her doctor today, who told her they don't do any testing at the clinic, but gave her a few places where she could go, including CHA (in assembly square). cambridge's CIC also does free testing on sundays in kendall square, but appointments can only be booked 6 days in advance. just to cover her bases, i'll try to book her an appointment with CIC as well, and she can decide if she wants to do the second covid test.

my installation of macos big sur on a thumb drive failed last night. it stalled at "one minute remaining" for more than an hour and i had to reboot the computer. when i tried to restart from the thumb drive, it brought me back to the initial installation screen with a 29 minute countdown. when i mounted the drive from my internal hard disk, i noticed it was in 3 parts: main, data, and an installation partition. must have something to do with the new APFS file system.

so i tried to reinstall big sur again, erasing the thumb drive. this time i activated wifi access beforehand, in the hopes that it might clear up that "one minute remaining" issue. it took about half an hour to install, but in the end it still got stuck on "one minute remaining". a lot of my online research have found that this problem happens a lot with big sur. so i erased the big sur installer from my computer (12GB) and downloaded the previous macos, catalina (8GB).

i began my catalina installation, left the computer to work. when i came back to check a short time later, i was happy to see that my mac rebooted on its own, and was now showing me the catalina welcome screen. i was worried that the OS would run slow because it was on a thumb drive, but USB 3 is much faster than old USB 2, and i didn't notice any speed issue.

so the whole reason why i wanted to install a new macos on a thumb drive is so i can run the system from an external drive and install turbotax, which only works on catalina or above. my primary OS is still high sierra, because i have a few software (like media pro) that won't run on an exclusive 64-bit system like catalina, big sur, or monterey. i managed to download and install turbotax deluxe ($50) successfully. the advantage here is once i finish doing my taxes, i can simply hand the thumb drive over to my sister so she can do hers, she wouldn't need to upgrade her system (which i think is high sierra as well, she upgraded last year just so she could run 2021's version of turbotax).

turbotax did tell me that this would be the last year they'd support catalina, and i'd need to upgrade to big sur or above to use turbotax 2023. i'm not sure why turbotax does this, there's no reason why they can't support systems older than the latest 3 iterations, which is approximately any macos that's 3 years or newer, when apple itself stil support machines as old as a decade. that was the impetus to get to try a different taxing software - like H&R block - but i read some bad reviews of H&R running on macos, so i was reluctant to make the switch.

later when i rebooted back to my main drive, i noticed the catalina thumb drive was in two partitions, a main and a data. when i opened up the directory to copy over some files, i noticed they were not only locked but all the directories were empty. the only unlocked directory was "public". apple's new file system is kind of a pain in the butt. i know they do it for security reasons, but it only makes things more complicated.

my father and i were in the basement in the afternoon, tending to our houseplants. swabbing mealybugs with alcohol, watering some particularly dry plants, and fertilizing the orchids. because it was still so warm outside (55 degrees), i bought outside that one jasmine and the gardenia to give them a proper spraydown with neem oil. i also did the same with the prayer plants, which i found out last week has some mealybugs as well. i also took out the two lemon verbanas, but i sprayed them with insecticidal soap to get rid of the aphids. my father showed me potential flower buds on the gardenia, so we may get some flowers after all. how a gardenia knows to produce flowers now is a mystery, since we don't really change any of the conditions on our grow room, so it's most likely just time based.

after dinner my father gave me a ride back to cambridge. on the doorstep was a package. at first we thought it was clothes, but it took me a few seconds to realize it was my 2 xioami mi band 6 that i ordered off of aliexpress ($35 each).

when i got home i tried out the new mi band 6. actually, before i get to that, i just want to say the coolest thing about the mi band 6 might not be the fitness tracker itself, but rather the box it comes in. i've never seen it before, i think there's some kind of hologram printing on the box so there's this hazy blob that seems to be floating around underneath, it's very cool.

the problem i realized is a mi band can only be paired to a single account/app. so i ended up using my mother's old samsung s9+ (the phone i use to fly my drone) to set up a new account so i could pair test the new mi band. the band also arrived with the battery completely drained, so i had to charge it up first. the charging cable is new - still proprietary - but now it uses a magnet clasp and you don't need to remove the device from the watchband to recharge. once that was finished, i managed to pair the mi band 6 with the phone. it had chinese writing on it initially, but that changed to english once i paired it to the phone.

i ended up wearing my old mi band 4 along with the new mi band 6 on the same (left) wrist. they're comfortable enough that i don't even notice i'm wearing two fitness bands. the mi band 6 is approximately the same size as the mi band 4, except the display is the entire watch face (152x486 pixels), while in the older mi band it was only 70% (120x240 pixels) with the rest being a button space. so the new band has an oximeter, but it's mostly hidden. this being the chinese version, it also has alipay and wechat pay (new) (which can be toggled off if you don't need them, an option not available on the band 4). the weather info is more prominent now. i downloaded a watch face app and spent the rest of the evening obsessively scrolling through the different faces and loading them onto the mi band 6.

i called my sister, asking if she still has the $20 off-brand fitness tracker she got a few weeks ago, and seeing if she can return it. she said she already threw out the box, and didn't need a xiaomi mi band 6, which i was willing to give her one. so i may just give one to my mother and keep the other one for myself. my old mi band 4 is still very much usable, but the battery now only last a week before i need to recharge it, so i wouldn't mind replacing it.

i got a letter from eversource, which turned out to be the $40 rebate for the levoit 300s air purifier i got in early february. it came in the form of a prepaid mastercard debit card. i converted it into a $40 amazon gift certificate and bought a spool of 2"inch x 100ft high temperature kapton tape ($9) for our LiFePo4 battery projects.

something weird happened to my mac today: for some reason i now have 200GB of free space, when i used to only have 20GB. that made me worried, like maybe i accidentally erased a large batch of files without realizing it. but i checked all my stuff, everything seems to be there, and the OS is still running smoothly. feeling nervous, i ended up running a time machine backup. i'm happy with the extra storage space, but very confused as to why that is.