i went out this morning for my tuesday run. temperature was already in the 80's, but it was a dry heat, so it wasn't too bad, just hot. midway through my run, i got a text message from WWY, "[dog emoji] go to taiwan," which was referring to nancy pelosi's trip to the island. apparently all of china was captivated by the news, watching her arrival live on television, while it wasn't as much as an impact here in the US. coming back, i came across some unwanted books somebody had put outside of radcliffe college. one of them was a copy of dune, which i picked up. i've seen the movies and the mini-series, played the board game, and read parts of the book electronically on my phone (a bad copy, with indenting and margin issues). now i finally have a physical copy of my own (although to be honest, i prefer reading it on the phone, can take it with me anywhere). this is the latest print, the 47th edition of the ace trade paperback edition that was first published in august 2005. there's even a bookmark (queen of spades playing card), i'm guessing the original reader only got as far as page 164 before quitting (and throwing out the book).

i got back home by 11:30am. somebody called me but i didn't recognize the number so i didn't answer it. turned it was michael, asking if i was available for dinner this week. i called him back, we made arrangement to get something to eat at 5:30pm. he recommended a vietnamese restaurant in fields corner, one that his sister went to earlier and said the food was very good. i wouldn't have picked a place that far (dorchester! in rush hour!), but since michael was driving and was game for some distance, i had no complaints.

my mother called during my run earlier, asked me to get some baby cucumbers. after a shower, i worked on my own grocery list, watched a bit of news, then rode the motorcycle to market basket to get the cucumbers as well as some bean sprouts. the rest i got for myself, decided to make a quiche pie for dinner this week, assembled an assortment of cheeses as well as some frozen spinach. i stopped by my place to drop off my groceries before taking the remaining supplies to the cafe.

when i got to the cafe, i was relieved to find the key to the back door which i thought i'd lost. i spent the whole weekend worrying where it might be and it was at the cafe the whole time. i got stuck for about 40 minutes as i helped out with orders and cooked some eggs (for tea eggs). we're out of tea egg spice packets, i'll need to get some, but we should be good for 1 more week.

the whole reason why i came out wasn't just to deliver some supplies, but rather to finally return the bar sink at home depot. i went to belmont to retrieve it, but realized i didn't bring my bungie netting. instead i found an adjustable strap and carefully tied the box to the back of my motorcycle.

this time around - with the right credit card - i was able to return the sink without any problems. after that i went to best buy across the street at the watertown mall (which is scheduled for demolition in the near future) to check out their selection of countertop ovens. a lot of ovens there were of the flat pizza-heating variety for some reason (i don't like this new trend at all). looking inside, seeing all the racks stacked so closely together, made me think of limbo, "how low can you." i took some photos then moved on to target.

target had way better selection, though it seems the entire store is gearing up to supply college students. i did see floor models of the two ovens i'm most interested in: the oster XL air fry oven, and the ninja foodi XL pro air oven. they also had the calphalon air fry countertop oven out on display (they had one at best buy but it was boxed). i like the more rugged design, but i don't like there's only two rack position. far as these ovens go, the ninja seems to include the most accessories (2 wire racks, 1 air fry basket, 2 sheet pans, 2 roast pan), but the oster has the largest capacity, able to fit 2 16" pizzas. the knock on the oster ovens i've heard is the very thin glass door can get hot.

after checking out the ovens, i went in search of insulated bottles. not the kind you use for sport, but the kind you have for camping, to keep drinks hot. for that i made my way to the camping section. stanley makes a 64 oz. growler ($35), but what i was interested in was their classic vacuum bottle. they carried a 1.4qt ($30) which seems like a target exclusive model. i couldn't resist and ended up buying it, with the firm understanding that i'll return it at some point after comparing it to our current thermos insulated bottle. i also bought some aussie shampoo for curly hair before finally leaving.

i returned to belmont to do one more important thing: to feed all our backyard plants with miracle-gro. last season i feed our garden with miracle-gro every 2 weeks, and we got amazing results. i didn't do that this year because we added chicken manure to the raised beds. but now that all the plants are in distress, i'm going back to the miracle-gro. it may not help since the problem is not so much lack of nutrients, but rather too much heat and most importantly not enough water. i ended up making 5 3-1/2 gallons of miracle-gro solution using what was left of the rain water. for some reason the rain water was yellow, and combined with the blue miracle-gro powder, made for a green solution. i finally left by 3:50pm, getting back home by 4pm.

there was a strong sewer smell in the house coming from the bathroom piping. i still don't quite know where it's coming from. i even went down to the basement but couldn't smell it there, so there must be a seam leakage probably higher up on the cast-iron sewer stack. after a shower the smell seemed to have gone away. it only happens when it gets really hot. i noticed it last summer, and then it disappeared, but now it's back again, intermittently, during hot weather.

michael showed up at 5:30pm right when i was outside taking out the trash. we headed to dorchester, first getting onto the turnpike from cambridgeport, then taking the HOV lane on 93. it seems we were the only car in that lane, everyone else seemed to be driving solo, or weren't able to get into the express lane. that saved us a lot of time as we sped by the bumper-to-bumper traffic jam on I-93 south. having never been in michael's car before, i learned something: he's an aggressive driver! it gets us to where we want to go faster, but there were a few times when i thought we'd get into a collision.

michael told me he was familiar with the dorchester/JP area from having gone to brookline high school. we made it to fields corner and found the restaurant - pho hoa - and a free 2-hour parking spot right across the street.

pho hoa! my old haunt! back when there was one on chinatown, that was my goto spot for pho. after a fire, that chinatown space is currently empty, and i don't know if they'll reopen (high rent and all). but at least they're still here in fields corner.

i was just going to order pho, but michael was saying his sister got the special 7 course beef combination ($46), so we decided to try it out. especially since michael only eats vegetarian or kids food at home, so he was craving some serious meat action. we also got a additional order of salt & pepper fried calamari as well as some vietnamese beer.

the waiter sat us by a window seat but we moved because the setting sun was shining right in my face. this was my first time eating out since the pandemic - so more than 2-1/2 years. the restaurant was doing good business, moderately busy on a tuesday night, mostly asian customers (i assume many vietnamese, but a table next to us was chinese) and a handful of non-asian customers as well.

the 7 beef special is good for people looking for adventure, with 7 varieties of vietnamese beef dishes. i didn't know beef was so popular in vietnam. first was the beef fondue in heated vinegar sauce (rolled up in rice wrapper), followed by a beef salad. then grilled beef in heated butter (rice wrapper as well). next came two types of beef skewers - grilled lemongrass and grilled betel nut - as well as a steamed beef meatloaf ball. finally we ended with some beef congee. it came with a house fish sauce that was too ripe for michael. i however put it on my food as much as i could, but the stink permeated my hands as i struggled to make the beef spring rolls, and even after washing it in the bathroom, the smell wouldn't come out.

in the end we both thought the 7 beef special was okay, but not enough to drive all the way out to just have. we left pho hoa by 8:15pm, getting onto I-93 north from the JFK/umass rotary then connecting onto the turnpike back to cambridge. i got back home by 8:45pm.

a package had arrived for me earlier: my new oral-b smart limited toothbrush. it was slightly larger than my old oral-b toothbrush, with an illuminated collar when turned on made it look like a child's toy. the light is useful for slightly illuminating your mouth while brushing, but also functions as a pressure alert light when you brush too hard. it came with a plastic storage case, 2 cross-action brush heads, and a charging station. i tried out the toothbrush. it has 6 brushing modes, but i used the default, which is regular brushing. to get it to show the red alert light, i had to press down very hard, so i'm glad i've been brushing with the normal amount of pressure. the oscillation seems pretty robust - supposedly 500% more effective than regular brushing, compared to my old oral-b which is only 300% more effective (and with a depleted battery, so who knows how well that old electric toothbrush was working).

later i connected it to the oral-b brushing app on my phone (yes, the toothbrush has bluetooth). apparently in order for smart brushing to work, you need to mount the phone on the bathroom mirror at face-height and turn on the camera. so that's where the "limited" comes from, because my toothbrush did not come with the suction mirror mount shown in the instruction manual. instead i brushed using the app while holding the camera up against the mirror. it showed a teeth map and where and how effective you were brushing. i question the accuracy because i was brushing my upper teeth but it showed my lower teeth being brushed. there was also a timer indicating how long you've brushed, but the 30 second quadrant vibration didn't happen. after i finished (turning off the toothbrush), the app gave me a score and informed me areas that i needed more work brushing. i think it's all very gimmicky, not really useful unless you're training a child how to brush. the fact that it needs the phone to be mounted and camera turned on was something never mentioned in all the oral-b smart brush advertisement i saw. i don't think i'll use it again. essentially the only thing the oral-b app is useful for is to check how much battery is left and to change the color of pressure sensor light.