this morning i started making another batch of chimichurri sauce when i realized i didn't have enough oregano. so i went to star market to pick some up, as well as some more boneless chicken thighs on sale. i should've realized something was wrong when i saw shelves of boneless chicken thighs. normally - when they're on sale - they sell out quick, so it unusual to see so much in stock. i picked the two largest packages and went to go pay. when the prices came up, they seemed wrong. but that's standard star market practice, not to show you what you'll actually pay until you pay. so i went ahead and processed my credit card and when i got my receipt, it was still the expensive price. i couldn't believe it and started walking out the store in a daze. i called my mother to ask if she still wanted the boneless thighs, she said to return them, so that's what i did. i noticed they put "do not sell" stickers on the chicken. i asked about that, they said for safety reasons, they can't resell any meat products that've been returned. i told her i'd just bought it, and another employee who overheard our exchange said she didn't even see me leave the store, so the clerk removed the stickers. hate to see good chicken go to waste!

i packed up my things and left for belmont by 11am. i went to the speedway gas station on mass ave to refuel the motorcycle. i believe this is the first time since i've gotten the motorcycle that i'm getting gasoline, which shows just how little i ride it. for 2.4 gallons i paid $12.

i stopped by the cafe to find the heat gun. in a year at most i might come to the cafe when it's closed only once. i had two keys - front and back - but i don't know which is which, so it took me a while to figure it out. i narrowed it down to the last time i used the heat gun was to strip paint from my sister's front porch when i repainted it 4 years ago. rummaging in the basement, i finally found one (we have at least 2-3). i need the heat gun to seal the heat shrink tubing for our battery box lug nuts.

i finally arrived at my parents' place by 11:30am. soon as i arrived, i was in the backyard doing yard work. my father and i pruned the redbud tree, and a bit of the kwanzan cherry and the cherry plum. we prune the trees every year, so they're pretty good shape-wise. the redbud was pruned to remove overcrowding, as it seemed to be growing much faster than we anticipated. my father wants it to grow tall, not wide, so we trimmed accordingly. the cherry tree we pruned any branches that were poking out too far, or encroaching into the neighbor's backyard. as for the cherry plum, there was one thick branch that not only looked diseased, but it was also infested with scale insects attended by ants; we pruned off that branch since it didn't affect the overall shape and the branch itself looked diseased, so not worth saving. finally, i tried to deepen the bamboo moat, but while i was digging, i discovered a few stray small bamboo stalks had escaped the moat. i dug up as much as i could, then sprayed the exposed root tips with roundup.

my father had set up his stainless steel tent stove earlier this morning. it smelled nice, reminded me of rural china, where i always seem to be smelling someone burning wood of some sort. he placed it on the ground for a chance, but i thought it was too close to the neighbor's house, where the smoke might blow in their direction. speaking of which, when i peeked through the fence cracks, i saw the neighbors had completing barricaded their garden this year with chicken wire fencing.

my mother called me back inside around 12:30pm to prepare the pulled pork sandwiches for lunch. i made one for each of us, along with a bit of leftover coleslaw. my mother seemed to like it, or at the very least didn't say anything bad about the sandwich. i could barely eat mine, having had half a dozen last week, so much so that i don't want to see pulled pork for a very long time.

after lunch my mother and i went out for a walk again. she said she wanted to go back to the belmont library branch to get that 500 piece puzzle she saw yesterday. we tried a new route, and saw many vegetable gardens - all enclosed by chicken wires, which seems to be the only way to keep rabbits from eating everything. we even saw a house that had half a dozen rain barrels (don't know if they use an on-demand pump). we didn't make it to cushing square, but instead took a detour and went by the chenery middle school. i haven't been down that area in a while, had some nostalgic flashbacks. coming back, we spotted a chipping sparrow, which its distinctive reddish brown cap and black eyeline. it was drinking from a leftover water puddle. it looked small enough that i thought it might be a warbler at first before i got back to the house and consulted the field guide.

we returned home by 2:45pm. i went to the backyard to remove squash vine borer eggs from the squash plants with a piece of sticky duct tape. my father and i also removed the milk cartons and plastic containers protecting our eggplants and peppers and made bigger circular cages instead; cages are better (provided the holes aren't big enough for rabbits to get inside) because it allows the plants access to sunlight and water. we repotted the two lemon verbana; these plants really love water and growing them in smaller pots meant they're constantly dry, so we gave them a bigger pot to grow. a bottom layer of potting soil, a middle layer of compost, then some fermented soy bean paste (smells like a chinese public toilet), finally a top layer of potting soil again. i also sprayed the potted plants with neem oil, and a few garden plants with insecticidal soap (aphids on some nasturtiums and a few squash leaves). finally i watered the 3 remaining orchids that've yet to flower. i added some orchid fertilizer to the water along with mosquito bits to get rid of potential fungus gnats.

my father grilled the two pieces of porterhouse steaks i'd bought on friday. originally he was going to do it on the cast-iron griddle (since it was already in the barbecue from when we made belgian waffles and bacon last weekend), but i said it'd be better to cook on the grill itself, for some flame-broiled goodness. so he removed the hot griddle with a pair of pliers, setting it off to the side, where it looked deceptively cool but was easily 450°F. he was asking how long to grill the steaks, i was surprised to discovered (courtesy of the internet) that it only required a few minutes per side. we also grilled some long-horn peppers.

the steaks - seasoned with just salt and pepper - had more than enough flavor on its own that it didn't need the chimichurri i'd made this morning. my mother kept saying how delicious and tender it was. whenever we cook some good steaks we always wonder why we don't eat it more often, since it's simple enough to prepare (on the barbecue) and super delicious that we'd want to eat it everyday.

after dinner it came time to work on the battery boxes. today all our crimping tools arrived - crimpers for heat shrink insulated terminals and the new heavy gauge battery lugs. comparing the neiko with the iwiss, my father could already tell that the 6 AWG was slightly smaller on the iwiss (i wasn't as sure). design-wise, they looked nearly identical. there was a cosmetic blemish on the handle of the iwiss, but it didn't affect the performance and when i told my father we could exchange it for a new one, he said don't bother. the iwiss cable cutter doesn't have a stripping "tooth" like it does on the neiko cutter; it's not a big deal since we'd never use the cutter for stripping anyway.

so we re-attached the old crimped lug terminal back onto the 6 AWG copper wire. we then used the iwiss crimper to recrimp it. we crimped twice, and now the lug was on there tight. the iwiss crimper also stamped each crimp with the size number (in our case 6) which is a nice touch. we went ahead and removed all our 6 AWG copper cables from the battery boxes and stripped off the heat shrink tubing covering the lug terminals so we could recrimp all of them. one person positioned the lug terminal, the other person clamped down on the crimper. once all the lugs were properly recrimped, we then reattached the heat shrink tubing. instead of a blowdryer or a lighter, we shrank the shrink tubing correctly this time - with a heat gun. once the 6 AWG cables were properly finished, we reattached them back into the battery boxes.

with that our battery boxes are finally finished. my father remarked that it took half a year to finish our battery box project, from getting an MPPT solar charge controller (january) (with lithium battery charging profile), sourcing the LiFePo4 battery cells (january), getting the BMS controllers (march), waiting for the battery cells to arrive 3 months later (april), balancing the batteries, securing all the components for assembling a battery box, and finally piecing the battery box together. other than the amount of time it took, i should also figure out how much we spent in total to create a lithium battery box.

i left belmont by 8pm. high wispy cirrus clouds filled the sky, i kept looking up while i rode back to cambridge. because of street cleaning, there were no safe spots near my house, so i ended up parking 2 blocks away in my emergency spot. i also contacted my upstairs neighbor jeff via text to remind him it was street cleaning. he totally forgot and thanked me for the heads-up. he ended up parking even farther - 3 blocks away - but at least he won't get ticketed towed tomorrow morning.