this is my final week helping out at the cafe. actually, today is supposed to be my last day, but since my mother is coming back so late, she'll probably need at least a day of rest before she can return to the cafe, so i'm at the cafe tomorrow as well.
soon after i arrived we got an online order. i was looking right at the phone when i got a notification about an upcoming order but then it disappeared. because the order wasn't until 30 minutes later, it wasn't in the active category yet. however, our thermal receipt printer didn't print out an order ticket like it'd normally do. was it because it was an upcoming order? so while my father started assembling the order (3 bento boxes), i investigated why it didn't print. turns out for some reason the ipad tablet was in energy saving mode, which broke the USB connection to the printer. i fiddled with the settings but nothing work, so finally we just restarted the ipad. after that it recognized the printer and was able to do test prints, but i wasn't able to reprint the order ticket.
the only way to make sure the printer was working was to wait for another online order. that happened later in the afternoon, another order for a chicken bento box. i actually didn't even realize it printed out an order ticket because i was just browsing the square tablet app, but then i noticed there was a notification and when i clicked on it, it said there was a new online order that just came in, and which i looked at the printer, the order ticket had already been printed.
the problem with the square online ordering system is we often don't know an order has come in. most of the time it catches us by surprise, and only because we happen to be looking at the printer, or happen to glance at the order screen on the phone. but my father finally had enough and decided we should get a second printer for square, one dedicated to printing order tickets, located closer to the kitchen so we can at least see and hear the orders coming in a lot better.
that opens up a world of thermal receipt printers for businesses like restaurants. commercial equipment always cost more for some reason, and even a small printer about the size of a big mac box costs around $300 easily. there are of course cheaper options from china, but none of those work with the square system, which is very finicky about what printers can be used, and will only accept star micronics and epson thermal printers. anyway, we ended up buying a star micronics TSP143IIIW wi-fi (WLAN) thermal printer for $290. this printer comes in several models - usb, bluetooth, ethernet, wi-fi - but i decided the wi-fi version was our best option, with a longer range. we can use some of that small business grant money to pay for it.
we currently already about 2 star micronics printers, one for the square ordering system, one grubhub gave us for their ordering system (it's most likely a "borrow", they'll probably want it back if we ever decide not to use grubhub anymore). the square printer is an old one that uses USB, while the grubhub printer uses bluetooth. we tried connecting both systems to the bluetooth printer, but it can only link to one device. i wonder if the wifi version will work with multiple devices?
speaking of amazon purchases, we bought something else, a NOCO HM300BKS group 24 snap-top battery box for $11. it's essentially a glorified heavy duty plastic box designed for housing a battery on a boat or trailer, but it's big enough to fit a 4-cell LiFePo4 100Ah battery pack plus BMS. when i showed my father he's eyes widened because it seemed like the perfect fit for our lithium battery project. it's due to arrive tomorrow.
we had a bunch of bento box orders today. each bento box includes one tea egg, and in a span of just a few short hours, we were down to only 8 eggs, after i cooked some more eggs this morning and had the count to 18. these 8 remaining eggs weren't even good because they were new today so they didn't have time to soak in the tea flavors. i ended up boiling another 14 eggs in the afternoon and added them to the tea egg crockpot. we may need to revisit our tea egg supply chain, maybe have more than the current 24 maximum we can have in our new 3qt crock pot. perhaps make 50 tea eggs at the start of the week and keep some refrigerated while leaving some others in the crock pot. old tea eggs taste better anyway, have a longer steep in the tea brine. the way we do it now is not very efficient, and i'm still making tea eggs everyday despite upgrading to a (slightly) larger crock pot.
i left the cafe late today, around 5pm. my next door neighbor was doing a house cleaning and threw out a bunch of stuff. i know she's a school teacher so there was all sorts of school supplies and children toys and especially books. there was also weird furnitures, like boxes made from cassette tapes. some of those are good tunes! but it seems like the tape had been ripped out from them before they were upcycled into boxes, otherwise i would've taken them for the tunes. she also threw out an apple keyboard which i gladly took. i brought it inside and cleaned it up with some paper towels and rubbing alcohol.
all i wanted to do when i got home was to watch any sports shows talking about the celtics victory last night. i'm all over the sports news when boston win, i do everything i can to avoid it when they lose. luckily they won last night, so i was going through youtube highlights one after the other. i also reheated a leftover burger king cheeseburger from last night. later in the evening i warmed up the leftover whopper for dinner.
close to midnight my father came to pick me up so we could go to logan airport and pick up my mother who was arriving from san francisco at 12:25am. this late at night there was no traffic in the city until we got to the airport, where there was a logjam of cars dropping off and picking up. we could also see that sumner tunnel inbound was bumper to bumper for some reason. we parked in the terminal B garage (the garage attendant asked us to open the trunk for inspection). my father was here just a few months ago picking up my siter's godmother, so he had a pretty good idea of where we should go.
however when we arrived inside the terminal where people were disembarking, there was nobody around. we walked a bit further and saw people coming out of gates and we waited for my mother to show up. half of the people were masked, half weren't. there was a time when everyone at the airport was masked, until that florida federal judge struck down the mandate.
we got to the point where we saw the pilots and the flight attendants, and they closed the door, but still no sign of my mother. finally i got a call from her asking us where we were. she was already waiting at the luggage pickup area, she must've came out early, we must've missed her. when we went downstairs to the luggage claim though, we didn't see 7, which was where my mother said she was waiting. baggage claim 7 ended up being where we were initially, the place where we didn't see any people. they must've disembarked without going through a public area and went directly to claims.
my mother's two suitcases came out soon after the bags started coming out of the carousel. we went to pay the parking fee at the machine before getting onto the elevator to level 4, where we parked the car.
leaving the airport we could still see a lot of cars, and once we got to sumner tunnel, it was bumper to bumper. the reason? 3 lanes became 1 entering the tunnel because they were doing maintenance. it was also like this inside the central artery, all the way until we got to the storrow drive exit, then there was no cars. however, the final exit onto storrow drive was blocked off, and we had to take a short detour around north station/science museum to get onto storrow. from there on it was smooth sailing back to belmont.
while my mother ate some food my father had prepared for her, she was also unloading her two suitcases, which was stuffed with mostly food items. everything had a story, where it came from, who gave it to her. my father got his battery charger, i got some taiwanese style flip flops and a replacement power cord for my tatung rice cooker.
i finally left by 1:50am, taking my fuji bike which had been in the garage since last weekend because it was raining i couldn't ride it back. this was my plan all along, and i brought my lights. there were hardly any cars on the road, most of the time i was riding by myself. for some reason i was hoping to see a coyote but i didn't. i got back home 15 minutes later, put the bike in the basement.