i had trouble falling asleep last night, afraid of phantom mosquitoes again, slapping at any itch. that was the reason why i didn't get out of bed today until almost 10am. i quickly used the bathroom and got dressed for a tuesday morning run, leaving by 10:30am. i wasn't sure if my 2nd aunt was going to the cafe to help today, so i was in a hurry to finish and go help out my parents just in case.

i made good time, even stopped by the community garden briefly to check on my plot before getting home by 11:30am, just an hour excursion. i quickly showered and took the motorcycle to the cafe, getting there by 11:50am.

it was a good thing i showed up because my 2nd aunt didn't come to the cafe and it was busy for a stretch. by 1:30pm business slowed down and my mother sent me out to the fresh pond trader joe's to get some mini cucumbers. i needed to head down there anyway, to visit petsmart to get some aquatic plants. they had a good selection but a little bit pricey for a tiny plant. i was going to get a java fern but decided to get a set of cardinal plants (Lobelia cardinalis, $10) because the baby plants reminded me of pennyworts (though they'll eventually grow out of it). what i really wanted was some moss but what they had (java moss) didn't look so great.

afterwards i went to trader joe's to pick up a few things before returning to the cafe by 2:20pm. my 2nd aunt was now there, but well after the busy lunchtime period (she was actually there to meet my godmother, who forgot about her appointment). i helped my 2nd aunt call eversource and waited on the phone for half an hour before finally getting an agent. starting in may they started charging electricity in my 2nd aunt's apartment (previously it was included in the rent). suddenly forced to pay what was up to this point free, she was shocked by how much electricity she used and likewise the resulting utility bill. she initially had a problem setting up her bill because her unit had no meter. they ended up deciding that the one unused meter was hers. so my 2nd aunt is under the suspicion that this meter may actually be wired to some common areas. anyway, i called eversource to ask if they could check the meter, and they told me that any sort of internal wiring issues inside an apartment complex falls under the jurisdiction of the apartment manager, and they have no control over it. the agent recommended that my 2nd aunt turn off the power main to her unit then check and see if her meter is still running. if that's the case, then for sure she's paying extra. so the problem is still unresolved. i told my 2nd aunt that the next time the building manager is there, to call me over and i could talk with the manager to get this straightened out.

since my 2nd aunt was at the cafe, my services were no longer needed (once again, i wasn't even supposed to be working today, it's all because my sister is still missing in action, god knows when she'll come home and return to work). i got back home by 3:20pm.

i rode the bicycle to market basket to get some groceries. feeling like a lazy week, i got some ready-made fresh raviolis along with some jarred pasta sauce, plus a few frozen meals. i also bought another watermelon. i bumped into my 2nd uncle browsing some frozen shrimp.

i got back home by 4:30pm. i hadn't eaten yet all day so i cut up a baguette and had some with brie. with the day almost over, i finally had some time to unwind a bit. no sooner had i sat down did i notice a mosquito trying to bite my fingers. it disappeared but came back to land on my ankle, at which point i managed to slap it dead. it must've hitched a ride into the house when i went to the basement from my back entrance earlier.

of course the most important thing i had to do today was to clean my aquarium and set up the CO2 generator. i started around 5:30pm. can't remember the last time i took out the driftwoods and aquatic plants, but i definitely got a surprise, as i uprooted extensive root systems of the anubias plants. so much so that it churned the gravel, making the tank completely cloudy. i couldn't find my bottle of acurel which would fix the problem right away, so i decided to change out as much dirty water as possible. i siphoned out 3 buckets worth, which is about 6 gallons of water. i then added some more aquarium gravel that i found in the basement. i then added back 6 gallons of fresh water, but of course that ended up churning the substrate and the water was just as cloudy. i cleaned out the filter and replaced the activated carbon. as for the anubias, i really have too much. they're a little faded, not sure whether that's not enough light, nutrients, CO2, or a combination. the yellowing (but green veins) could be a sign of iron deficiency. i added a fertilizer pellet into the substrate. i trimmed off all the excess roots (i read somewhere that it's safe to do so, and encourages additional growth) before putting the plants back inside the tank. i could hardly see anything, but managed to break apart the cardinal plants from their gel substrate and anchor them into the gravel.

with the aquarium cleaned, it was now time to set up the CO2 generator. i actually made a time lapse but the gopro malfunctioned and only recorded the first 5 minutes. so i basically measured out 200g of citric acid and 200g of baking soda with the food scale (by weight, not volume). i started first with the citric acid. it looked like grains of salt, but the crystals were more spherical than cubic. maybe it was the humidity, but the citric acid was prone to clumping. 200g also is a lot - equivalent to 7 oz. so i ended up with this mountain heap of citric acid. next came time to portion out the baking soda. i used old baking soda i got from belmont; it'd been exposed to moisture, so it was in large solid chunks instead of fine powder. using a cutting board and a meat tenderizer, i crushed the chunks back into powder form before measuring out 200g.

next came time to pour the dry ingredients into the bottle, starting first with the citric acid. i tried using my smallest sized canning funnel which has a wider opening but the diameter was too wide. i then used the collapsible rubber/plastic funnel that came with the kit, but the crystals would stick to the rubber folds inside the funnel. i ended up creating a larger paper funnel/cone and scooping the citric acid tablespoon by tablespoon. once enough of it had been transferred, i poured the remaining crystals onto a sheet of paper folded into a wedge and poured it inside the container. i spilled a little bit of the citric acid, so naturally i tried eating some. it tastes like the powdery coating on sour patch kids (which is probably actually citric acid). i then poured in the baking soda using the same method, scooping into paper cone followed by pouring via paper wedge.

after that i poured in 300g of water. directions said to pour at a 45 degrees (to avoid CO2 reaction splashback). i then quickly screwed on threaded regulator cap and giving the bottle a little swirl. looking at the meter, i could see the pressure slowly rising, stopping around 100 psi. the lower half of the bottle started to feel cold and condensing, results of the endothermic reaction.

i started attaching the additional components to the regulator cap: solenoid valve, bubble counter. i cleared out the space underneath my fish tank table (which is actually an old sewing table) so i could put the CO2 generator bottle underneath. i then connected the diffuser to the check valve before connecting to the CO2 bottle. i used the glass diffuser i bought from china, finally getting a chance to use it after all these years. i made a stupid mistake of cutting the tubing too short (2ft) so it couldn't reach the bottle underneath. i cut another 3ft length of tubing which barely reached the bottle.

i powered the solenoid valve before slowly turned on the needle valve to let the CO2 into the bubble counter. bubbles! not just any bubbles, CO2 bubbles. unfortunately the aquarium was still so cloudy, i couldn't see the diffuser to check if it was working or not. i ended up taking a peek from the back of the aquarium, and could see a steady stream of micro bubbles. success!

the CO2 pressure is a little disappointing. it would continue to increase, and the last time i checked (around 11pm) it was around 160 psi. but watching some youtube videos showed people reaching as high as 400 psi with this 2L bottle setup. i think the secret is to swirl the ingredients even more after adding the water and capping. i'll try that next time. the quality of the baking soda might also be a factor. if i used fresh powder baking soda, that might be better.

so i didn't finish with my CO2 aquarium setup until almost 9pm. by then i was too wiped to cook anything, so i threw some french bread pizza in the oven. since it's trash night, it was also the perfect time to carve up that watermelon so i could toss out the rinds. so i did that while the pizza was baking. the watermelon i got this time was not very good. i should've known something was wrong when i didn't get any watermelon juices on the table like i normally do. this was a dry watermelon, and it didn't have the "hollow" crispiness of a good watermelon. now i have all this watermelon i don't know what to do with. maybe i can blend it into smoothies?

alex's flipper tools arrived today, i only saw because i went outside to throw out the trash, although my upstairs neighbor jeff texted me as well when he was coming back from late grocery shopping (his wife michelle is visiting tomorrow so he was stocking the fridge). of course if i checked my skype i would've also known about the package because alex was asking if i'd received the package yet (he was obviously monitoring the shipping status). now i need to mail everything to japan but that's a bit of a challenge as electronics can only ship via ground. i'll have to say something like, "electronic components" to circumvent shipping restrictions.