the overarching goal of the day was to get my morning run in so i can then go to my parents' place to re-adjust the pH and concentration of my hydroponic jars.

i woke up this morning with an itchy throat, sneezing, running nose, and itchy eyes. for the layman it might appear to be covid symptoms, but i knew it was the start of ragweed hayfever season. i slept with the window open, so i'm not surprised i'm getting the full suite of symptoms. as soon as i got out of bed, i took some nasal spray.

running around the charles, i noticed storrow drive inbound was bumper to bumper traffic. what happened must've happened recently, because then i saw a news channel 5 helicopter hovering over the sky. must be storrowing i thought to myself as i made my way home and turned on the television. sure enough, the breaking news of the day was a moving van getting scalped underneath one of the bridges.

when i went to go take a shower, the bathtub drain was clogged again. this after i've been using earthworm drain cleaner with natural enzymes for a week. i can't believe it made it worse. maybe because it cleared away so much buildup, that buildup actually reclogged the drain. but after my shower, i poured half a container of liquid plumr down the drain, figuring some harsh chemicals would work better than the natural stuff.

i ate the last of the danishes for lunch. i rested until 1pm before heading out again. i biked to market basket to see if they had any distilled water. i've never had a reason to buy distilled water, but i remember concerned parents with small children getting it to make their baby formula instead of using tap water. sure enough, they carried plenty of distilled water (99¢), along with spring water. i grabbed a gallon jug, along with some frozen pizza and pork rinds.

soon after i returned home, i switched to my motorcycle and left for belmont. it was earlier enough that i had time to run to home depot, but decided i should fix my hydroponic jars first. i brought along some pH test strips to try out on the nutrient solution. the first one - a pH test strip from germany (i think my aunt got it for me from her lab) - only read pH values between 0-6. judging from the colors, it looked like the pH was 5.5. i then tried a pH test strip from china, with a range from 1-14. that one looked to be around pH 7. i finally tried the pH meter. i read that distilled water should give me a pH of 7, and sure enough it did. however, the longer i left the meter in the distilled water, the more the pH continued to lower.

ignoring that bit of weirdness, i dipped the pH meter into the nutrient solution: the pH was 6. how could that be? 48 hours ago it was pH 3.5. it made me think maybe the pH meter was broken. so i decided to calibrate the pH meter, now that i had distilled water on hand. i poured out 250ml and added the pH 6.86 powder. the initial reading was close to that value, but i calibrated it so it'd read exactly pH 6.86.

pH meter calibrated, i measured the distilled water first. initially it read pH 7, but that value continued to drop. once again ignoring the anomaly, i measured the pH of the nutrient solution: pH 6!

by that point i didn't know what to think. either the pH meter was wildly inaccurate, or something strange was happening to the chemistry that i didn't understand. i also took EC measurements: distilled water was 8ppm, while the nutrient solution was now 950ppm (it was 1200ppm on tuesday). maybe the nutrient solution just needed some time to balance out. or maybe it interacted with the LECA balls. who knows. but these pH/EC numbers are optimal now, so i didn't bother testing the other jars. i wrapped this one up and put it back with the others.

2 days have passed, and the mustard seedlings in the mason jars have already started to form their first real leaves. one of the seedlings looked to have yellowing along the edges of its new leaves, which could mean not enough water, or fertilizer burn. the leca balls were dry now, but the bottom 1/4 of the net cups are still submerged in solution, so the plants should be safe. in the larger jar, the seedling had emerged. i noticed it was shorter than the other seedlings, maybe because this one was germinated under grow light, while the other two were sprouted with real sunlight before getting transplanted.

i drove the car to home depot to get some aeroponic materials, mainly PVC pipe fittings. i bought 4x 1/2" PVC elbows ($2.84) and 7x 1/2" PVC tees ($5.53). i also bought a 10ft length of 1/2" PVC pipe ($5.82). i was looking for a 1/2" barbed elbow fitting - the kind used for irrigation - but they didn't have it for some reason. closest i could find was 1/2" PEX elbows, but those won't work. i also looked for 1/2" rubber grommets but the aisle/bay numbers i wrote down was for the somerville home depot. after i paid, i was worried the pipe would stick out of the trunk (measured earlier, there was just 8ft of clearance inside the car), but when i went to put in the pipe, it fit completely because the PVC pipe can bend a little bit.

after i returned to belmont, i watered the plants in the backyard. the bit of rain we got early yesterday morning was enough to refill the rain barrels. i finally left by 4pm.

my precision drug scale arrived today! bigger than i thought, i imagined it to be credit card size; instead it's about the size of a small iphone but 3x as thick. it has a maximum weight capacity of 200g, which isn't a lot: my tv remote is already 150g, my pixel 3XL phone? 220g. precise nutrient measurements, here i come!

in the evening i was waiting for the 9pm premiere of the rings of power on amazon prime. i'd already read an entertainment weekly review of the show, which basically said it was garbage (albeit good-looking garbage at that), so my expectations were low. but i actually really liked it, and happy that amazon released 2 episodes. i actually like it better than house of the dragons because HOTD can be too dark and cynical. TROP is more traditional in that heroes win and villains fail.