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the garden community notified me this morning that the city came by and chopped down the mulberry tree. had i known i would've gone to take photos. from the photos i did see, it seemed to be pretty surgical; they parked a crane in the driveway of the house next door, i'm not sure if they even needed to trample through my plot, although i assume there was a little bit of trampling. maybe there was a time when the removal of the mulberry would be a cause for celebration; this time however it was evidence that the garden path was really happening, and come spring all the plots along the eastern side of the garden will be paved over to make way for the pathway.

i put up my kitschy chinese santa head displays in my living room windows. i bought a bunch of them when i was in chongqing, but felt silly putting them up when i returned home. i actually hung up one head last year, but in a very inconspicuous spot. this year however, i've got all three windows covered. santa's beard is covered in glitter so now i have glitter everywhere.

in the afternoon i uncovered the motorcycle and rode out to modern homebrew emporium on mass ave to look for an airlock and corresponding grommet for my father's chinese suancai (sauerkraut) recipe. they had both types of airlocks for the same price - s-shaped and 3-piece - the guy told me that s-shaped don't evaporate as fast but they're impossible to clean, while 3-piece are easier to clean but evaporate faster. i ended up getting the 3-piece, only because i already have an s-shaped airlock somewhere at home. total price for airlock and grommet: $2.11.

from there i took rice street onto rindge then sherman, the route my 2nd aunt will take in the future if she walks to the cafe when she moves. speaking of moving, i stopped by the cafe to drop off the airlock, but my father and aunt were just about to drop off a check at the bank and visit the apartment to hopefully get the keys, i ended up going with them because i was curious to see my aunt's new place.

my 2nd aunt is moving with my 2nd uncle to the burns apartments located in north cambridge right next to matignon catholic high school. they used to live in the observatory hill apartment above my grand uncle's place (both places he owns), but my grand uncle can rent out that apartment room for far more money to visiting astrophysicists, so my aunt is getting push out. besides, it's time she got her own place, one where she didn't have to share the kitchen and bathroom with others, a place with a living room, regardless of where it might be. my aunt's financial situation qualifies her for low-income housing, and she signed up for places both in cambridge and boston. cambridge notified her of an available apartment weeks ago, but only this week was the place ready for her to move in. there was some paperwork to fill out and a money order check sent to the housing agency.

that was the reason we were going to the bank first. just by coincidence, the bank was right across the street from homebrew emporium. had i known, i could've saved myself the trip. while my father was in the bank, i decided to quickly run across the street and pick up another set of airlock and grommet. when i was there earlier i didn't get a good look at the prices. this time however i did see that the grommet itself cost 50¢, and using middle school algebra i was able to deduce that the airlock must therefore cost $1.49 (math geek this: [x + 0.50] * 1.0625 = 2.11). when i came out of the store, i saw my father was already driving away. didn't my aunt tell him i wasn't in the car? i had to chase down the car for fear of being left behind.

at burns apartments we waited for about 15 minutes while our case worker talked with another tenant. all the people who lived there were old, with various stages of disability, whether simply pushing an oxygen tank or dealing with obesity. by the mailboxes i saw a sign for a service where if the mail carrier notices that you haven't picked up your mail in a while, they can do a wellness check in your apartment to make sure you're okay. when the case coworker finally got to us, she simply told our forms and said they'd contact us. as we were about to leave, the manager asked us if we were all set. instead of just sending us away (she informed us that the other person was new), she gave my aunt the keys to her apartment, a resident welcome packet, and a key fob to open the front door.

with keys in hand, we went upstairs to the 2nd floor to see the apartment. my father and aunt had already seen the place a few days ago. my aunt didn't like the place at all, and when asked if there were any windows, she said she couldn't remember. the southeastern-facing apartment is about 400-500 square feet, an attachment kitchen to a living room, then a separate bedroom with a bathroom. the place is surprisingly clean, with no smells. the stove didn't have a hood, which means my aunt will be limited in her chinese stirfry cooking (most US homes don't have the type of hood necessary to properly vent chinese-style cooking).

i think my aunt liked the place a little better on her second viewing, but still not entirely happy. for one thing, she was expecting a balcony like some of the other apartments. i think she just doesn't like change. aside from the low rent, heat/water/electricity is also all covered. as for cable/internet, that may be something she needs to pay for, or maybe it's included as well.

living in north cambridge will afford her new opportunities. for one thing, the nearest supermarket (stop & shop) is just a 11 minute walk (0.6 miles) from her place. or if they don't want to shop there, the 87 bus drops them off in front of the somerville market basket, as well as the somerville target, and to the galleria mall. they are also a 15 minute walk away from davis square, and about the same distance to alewife station. one downside is now she lives 30 minutes walking distance away from the cafe (but she can get more exercise from walking).

before we left, we asked the manager for another key fob, and also for the superintendent to install the shades and replace the screen windows. back at the cafe my father showed me his suancai setup in the basement. he had it in a large empty soy sauce bucket (5 gallons), with the lid on. that's why i got him the airlock, but he said the lid has a screw-on spout that he can open up slightly to let the carbon dioxide escape. so he ended up not needing the airlock after all.

i rode to belmont. when my parents got back, i opened up the broken foscam FI8910W to show my father what was wrong with it. i ended up ordering a new stepper motor ($3.49), hopefully this will fix it. it's a little weird, but stepper motor 28BYJ with a test board costs only half that amount. i was tempted to just get that instead, but 28BYJ means 28mm diameter, and i need an exact 24BYJ 24mm for the foscam camera, so better to match the new part exactly to the original.

i also saw their new projection alarm clock ($28.99): large number display on the clock itself, and when projected onto the ceiling the numbers are even larger. they should've bought this a long time ago!

after dinner i returned to cambridge. there was a lot of moisture in the air which condensed on my windshield. i wiped off as much as i could with the sleeves of my jacket, but i still rode with my head craned up so i could see over the windshield.

my silicone lid seal rings arrived yesterday, i finally picked them up today. they fit on the standard ball wide mouth plastic lids, a little loose, but not enough that they'd fall out. of course with the ring in place, the lid can't screw entirely down. i filled a jar with water and tried to shake out the liquid, which surprisingly did come out. so i tightened the lid a bit more and that seemed to do it, perfect watertight seal. combined with my new airlocks and grommets, i intend to make some tabletop mason jar sauerkraut, amongst other fermented vegetables. as for the airlocks, i'm surprised how big they are, i thought they were smaller from the photos i've seen. i don't think they come in any other sizes. to install the airlock, i have to sacrifice one of the plastic lids by drilling a 1/2" hole for the grommet.

i biked down to the cafe this morning so i could go with my father to see the accountant so i could familiarize myself with some of the financial details of the LLC. the appointment was at 11am, i got there 30 minutes early. the new refurbished foscam FI9821W v2 webcam ($30) arrived yesterday. i was in the backroom setting it up, configuring the router to make sure the correct service port was forwarding to the proper static IP address. i was halfway done before i had to leave for the meeting, which was just across the street.

i'd never been in that brick building across the street before, although i've passed by it a million times over the course of my life. i assumed it was a multistory building, but inside it was just one floor, with a spacious ceiling (i heard this was done for property tax reason). we chatted for a little while, i left thinking corporate taxes is a very complex and technical thing, just like how people when they hear about IT shop talk.

back at the cafe i finished setting up the webcam. i'm pretty familiar with all the steps now, this being the 5th foscam i've set up (not counting the 2012 zyxel IPC3605N frances gifted me that i later returned and exchanged for my first foscam, nor my old 2010 linksys webcam [which finally died earlier this year], nor the 6th black foscam i got earlier this year that i later returned because it kept on crashing due to overheating and got a white foscam instead).

i realized today that the way i configure the webcam is kind of complicated, because i set the ip number on the webcam to static instead of DHCP-assigned. there's always a leap of faith when i untether the internet cable and wait nervously to see if i can see the camera back on the router. the easier way to set it up is to leave everything in the camera as is (besides changing the login/password and making sure it's connecting to the right network via wifi) but use address reservation in the router to match the MAC address to a specific ip number (sort of the way i do my raspberry pi's).

anyway, the webcam worked. i was a little worried, because it's a refurbished model (although looking at it, you wouldn't be able to tell since it looks brand new). at that price ($30), it's worth getting two cameras since normally a brand new unit costs $60-70. using a ladder, i climbed up to the top of the rear door to remove the old foscam (FI8910W) and replace it with this new one (FI9821W V2). so far so good, we'll leave it on and see if it crashes or malfunctions the next few days.

with that business out of the way, i returned home with two meat buns reserved later for dinner. it was cold and wet and rainy yesterday, but today was a calm dry late autumn day, temperature in the 40's. back at home my kimchi was still fermenting (the house smells like cabbage). the old korean chili powder would pool at the bottom of the jar, looking like dark congealed blood. hopefully it tastes better than it looks. but it's not a big deal if i have to make a new batch. i haven't made kimchi in so long, it's normal for the first batch since my hiatus to be a little off. i'm sure the second batch will be better!

my father stopped by my house briefly on his way to market basket to drop off a large empty box (in case if i ever need to do any shipping).

i'd brought home the old foscam FI8910W. originally i was just going to leave it at the cafe and put it in the basement, but with it's inability to pan horizontal left and right (just vertically up and down), it wasn't very useful. i brought it back to see if i could fix it somehow. that involved opening up the camera, which wasn't very hard, but some screws were hidden behind stickers, and the screws were kind of cheap and i think i stripped some of them while trying to remove them. i got as far seeing the gearing for the panning action. everything inside looked pristine, so it wasn't a clogging problem. at this point it's either one of two things: either the panning control on the circuit board is fried (i didn't see any scorch marks), or there's something wrong with the W-24BYJ 5V DC stepper motor. stepper motors are more reliable than regular motors, so it's a mystery why it stopped working. but if the stepper motor needs to be replaced, it's a relatively cheap part, with prices $1-$5 on ebay.

i went to star market to get some snacks: potato chips and pistachio häagen-daz ice cream. when i returned home, i was surprised to discover i already have an uneaten carton of pistachio in the freezer. too much ice cream!

my mother told me that the health inspector finally came by the cafe today. she said the only thing my parents had to do was to make the sushi sign smaller, so people don't think this is a sushi place, since a sushi restaurant requires additional permitting. but otherwise they passed their inspection.

for dinner i heated up the two meat buns in the microwave.

i was still missing a few kimchi ingredients: thai chili peppers and salted shrimp. when i woke up this morning it was still snowing a little bit, but by time i made up my mind to go out and collect the rest of my ingredients, it began to rain. i can bike when it snows, but not when it rains. so i had no choice but to walk with an umbrella. the union square korean supermarket would carry the salted shrimp, at a distance of a mile away, about 21 minutes walking. walking gave me a chance to play pokemon go, which i haven't done in a while. i managed to collect 2 new pokemons, a squirtle and a voltorb. along the way i stopped by market basket to pick up some thai chili peppers. prices on these peppers can fluctuate, i shouldn't have been so surprised that they're a little bit more expensive in the winter ($3.60, $7.99/lb). i really didn't need a whole container but that's all they had; good thing is i can freeze what i don't use. i also picked up a box of clementine oranges ($4.99).

reliable market did some recent renovations. they expanded their alcohol selection, and added a fresh sushi counter. i found the salted shrimp at the back of the store along with the refrigerated kimchi. like the thai chili peppers, salted shrimp is not essential, but it adds another layer of flavor to the kimchi. i don't use saeujeot for anything else other than korean kimchi; it'll just live in my fridge for the next few years until it goes bad and i have to toss it out (it's got a june 2018 expiration date). price per gram, it's about the same price as what i paid for it the last time i bought salted shrimp in january 2013. i also checked out their korean red pepper powder selection. i almost bought a new package but i figured i still had enough at home (later i'd realize the pepper powder i had was already expired and wasn't very good, so i hindsight i should've got fresh chili powder). out of curiosity i checked their price on napa cabbage: 99¢/lbs! glad i bought mine from chinatown, where it was only 38¢/lbs.

on the way back, i walked a little further to visit a pokemon gym that had an active slot. i quickly filled it with one of my pokemon, then immediately collected on 10 pokecoins. i now have a grand total of 40 pokecoins, just enough to buy nothing.

the very first time i ever made korean kimchi was december 2008; i made a jar and a half of kimchi. the next attempt wasn't until may 2009, when i began adding salted shrimp as well. i must've caught kimchi fever because the next month (june) i made kimchi twice: using the food processor to chop up some ingredients, and starting to recycle pickle jars when i couldn't find anymore leftover kimchi jars. then there was a hiatus. i didn't make kimchi at all in 2010, and it wasn't until december 2011 when i made kimchi again; maybe i was making up for the previous year but i ended up with 13 jars of kimchi total. i made so much that in 2012 i didn't bother making anymore. it wasn't until january 2013 when i revisited kimchi, making 4 jars. summer of 2013 i left for chongqing for a year. even in china i was making kimchi, creating a small batch in april 2014. instead of salted shrimp (which i couldn't find), i used slightly-cooked clams. and being that this was chongqing, i certainly had no problems find hot chili peppers, whether it be fresh or powdered. i even let some korean coworkers try my kimchi, they seemed to like it, which i took as a badge of honor. that was probably the last time i made kimchi; i didn't make it when i came back, nor all of 2015. now with 2016 almost over, i'm due for some homemade kimchi.

kimchi(4x 32 oz. pickle jars)

7.0 lbs. napa cabbage
1.4 lbs. daikon radish
5 tbsp fine salt
2 tbsp salted shrimp
12 tbsp red pepper powder
ginger, processed
20 garlic cloves, processed
1 asian pear, processed
7 thai hot peppers, chopped
garlic chives, chopped

returning home, i started making the kimchi after i watched the news and ate a chobani yogurt for lunch. the first step to make kimchi is to chop up the napa cabbage and daikon radish and reduce them with salt. along with the cabbage and radish, i also chopped up an asian pear to be reduced as well. that turned out to be a mistake, because the pear basically just disappeared. i decided to add the pear again during the mixing phase by food processing a pear along with the garlic and ginger (which would come later). the asian pear is the only part of the ingredient that's new. i see asian pear mentioned in many kimchi recipes so i wanted to see what additional flavor there might be by adding it. maybe the sweetness of the pear can balance any potential over-saltiness.

chopping a whole head of napa cabbage seems like it'd be difficult, but cabbage is mostly water, and the knife slices through it like crispy butter. i cut the cabbage into 1x1" squares. i ended up with a two containers full of chopped cabbage and some radish and pear (a plastic bunch bowl and a medium stockpot).

because i needed some space to mix in the salt, i divided up the chopped cabbage into 3 containers for easier mixing. new this time around was my jumbo-sized 20 quart stockpot. i bought that a while ago hoping to turn it into a moonshine still that i never got around to building (maybe some day). since then it's just been sitting on top of my kitchen cabinets. the big size is perfect for mixing vegetables (which will come later). in the meantime, after dividing the cabbage, i salted them. initially i only used 4 tbsp, but then i added another tbsp (for a total of 5 tbsp). in hindsight that might've been too much salt, but i was basing it on my 2013 kimchi recipe where i used 4 tbsp of salt for 5.8 lbs. of napa cabbage. i mixed everything by hand then let it all reduce. by then it was 1:30pm. after 1-1/2 hours, i decided to mix all the cabbage together into the jumbo stockpot.

my next roommate got in touch with me today. her name is karen, a mexican nutritionist, coming to boston to do research for the month of february. she wanted to ask if my guest bedroom was available and if i could send her some photos of the place. i could've just sent her the photos i took for freddy back in october, but instead i decided to get some updated photos with the fisheye lens attached to my nikon coolpix 4500. i bought that nikon FC-E8 more than a decade ago but i'm still finding uses for it after all these years (like infrared fisheye). for taking interior shots, nothing beats the fisheye for coverage, despite the strong distortion along the edges. if i had the money, i'd buy a cheap fisheye for the canon.

afterwards i sent karen the photos along with the typical roommate information. being that she's from always-warm mexico, i warned her about the cold weather in february. from our correspondences, i learned that she also likes to cook and garden. maybe i can learn some mexican recipes from her!

every hour or so i'd go in the kitchen and stirring the stockpot full of reducing cabbage with my bare hand.

my tayda electronics order arrived today. i'd never heard of them before (they sell electronic parts) but they had a 17% off thanksgiving sale so i ordered a few things over the black friday weekend. the parts weren't expensive, a few cents to a dollar (it would've been a bargain even without the discount), and there was shipping but only a small amount ($1.25; i hate paying for shipping on things that cost more than the things themselves; it did take 8 days to arrive). for some reason i thought the company was based in china, so i was surprised to see it came from colorado (maybe a shipping warehouse).

i got a pair of breadboards (didn't realize they were a bit small; a few days later i ordered a larger one off of ebay), some sensors (sound, temperature/humidity), a nRF24L01+ 2.4G wireless transceiver module (not quite sure how to use it, but it was only 99¢), and some 433MHz TX+RX wireless transmitting modules (which i will use for a project that allows my raspberry pi to control the lights in my house via the internet remotely).

once the cabbage reduction had reached the 4 hours mark, i poured out the liquid because i didn't want the cabbage to be sitting in it. i saved the liquid because i may need it to top off any dry kimchi jars. i also put some pickle jars (nathan's half sour pickles) i've been saving over the years (found them in my basement) into the dishwasher to sterilize them. next time i may just boil the jars instead because it took around an hour to wash the jars (even on a light cycle). at 7:30pm - after 6 hours of reducing - i transferred the cabbage into the medium stockpot and drained whatever else liquid remained. i tried a piece of cabbage: it was salty, which immediately made me regret adding 5 tbsp of salt. i read some rule that said 1/2 tbsp of salt for every pound of cabbage; i'll follow that advice for next time.

with cabbage reduction over, now came time to prepare the mixing ingredients. in years past i've just chopped the garlic and sliced the ginger, but i've also shredded them in the food processor. i went with the food processor approach this time, gave me a chance to use the processing container of my ninja blender. i peeled two heads of garlic, which gave me about 20 cloves. i broken off 2 nuggets of ginger and peeled them. i also peeled an asian pear, cored the bitter middle, then chopped it up into smaller pieces. there was enough that not everything would fit in the processor so i did it in halves. food processing is so much more fun that regular old chopping! i ended up with a finely chopped blend of garlic, ginger, and asian pear.

i chopped the garlic chives then some thai chili peppers. chili peppers is what actually makes the kimchi hot, not so much the chili pepper powder. garlic chives just add another layer of pungency to the kimchi. in years past i also added scallions, which i didn't do this time. normally i add scallions (which are more common) when i can't find garlic chives, which i can only find in asian supermarkets.

finally i mixed all the ingredients with the reduced cabbage. i did the mixing in the 20 quart jumbo stockpot; it was so big, i could've easily made 10x the amount of kimchi. to the mix i added 2 tbsp of salted shrimp. my 2013 recipe said i only added a tbsp, but i don't know if that was a mistake. i normally don't like that particular seafood flavor, and i'm pretty sensitive to it in my food, but in this case, with so many other strong flavors, you can't taste the shrimp. besides, i had a lot of it, might as well use it. in fact, i actually wanted to add 3 tbsp, but decided to play it safe and only do 2 tbsp.

finally, i scooped in 10 tbsp of korean red pepper powder. it looked a little off. for one thing, the powder wasn't the typical bright red, but rather a dark maroon color. also the powder seemed more like dried flakes than actual powder, and i wasn't getting that reddish coating i normally get. i realized too late that the pepper powder wasn't very good, too dry and not the right color. i ended up adding another 2 tbsp (for a total of 12 tbsp), trying to make the kimchi more red.

after mixing everything thoroughly, i began packing the kimchi into the 32 oz. pickle jars (i didn't realize they were 32 oz., i thought they were smaller). i managed to fill 4 jars. 7 lbs. of napa cabbage reduced down to just 4 jars of kimchi! i put the jars in glass lasagna bowls and open the lid slightly to allow any gases to escape. so now i will wait the rest of the week to watch for signs of fermentation, before putting the jars in the refrigerator. later in the evening i added some cabbage juice to the jars, just to make sure most of the kimchi was submerged in liquid.

for dinner i heated up a leftover meatbun. still later i cooked a frozen burrito. even later still i found an old frozen microwave meal (vegetarian pasta) and ate that as well. i watched the colts-jets game, indianapolis destroyed new york with a final score of 41-10. it made me jealous, because the way the colts played is how i wish the patriots would play, where they completely dominate an opponent and then run up the score.

i left for belmont in the morning, hoping there'd be enough time to visit the waltham OSJL before the football game started at 1pm (to get some suet cake refills for the backyard feeder). when i walked into the house, i could smell sandalwood smoking from the diffuser which my mother had turned on; the few drops of essential oil she added yesterday was still good a day laster. i was going to drive there with the toyota that'd been sitting in the driveway for who knows how long, but my mother told me my sister yesterday left the engine running to see if the car was okay but then forgot to shut off the engine so the car was left running for half the day, with hardly anymore fuel left in the tank. there was also the problem of the tires, which were slightly deflated from lack of use.

so i was outside with the pneumatic pump filling up each tire to the recommended 32psi. the pump would noisily pressurize intermittently, so during those times, i was cleaning the garage. i stacked a horizontal wooden shelf on top of some other shelving for more storage space. a bag of fertilizer was chewed open by some critter, with smelly pellets all over the floor. the right-front tire was going me some problems. when i checked with the gauge it said it had 40 psi, but the tire still looked flat. i felt deflating and inflating, but it didn't seem to do any good. maybe the tire is just deformed from sitting in the driveway for so long.

since i had the electric cord out, i also used the shopvac to vacuum the inside of the car, where there was some debris (dead leaves, gravel, dirt) on the floor pads. afterwards i drove the car out onto the curb, so my father could park the honda into the driveway when he came home and then have the toyota be the first car out, since it needs gas and my father wants to send it to the shop to fix the breaks which are a bit soft.

i wasn't done yet, taking off my jacket, rolling up the sleeves of my dress shirt, and then raking the bit of dead leaves on the front lawn. my parents' next door neighbors haven't raked all season, but in their defense, they do have 3 kids (or is it 4? they're prodigious breeders). still, it's kind of an eyesore, and the dead leaves on their lawn end up blowing onto ours. when you live in the suburbs, you have to do suburban things, and one of them is to rake your lawn (the other is to mow your lawn during the summer, something they're also very neglectful of doing). i should've been cold with the temperature in the upper 30's, but i was okay since raking warmed me up. i was also wearing my long underwear underneath my jeans, the first time this season.

when i finally went back inside, it was almost 1pm, almost the start of the rams-patriots game. 9-2 new england was up against 4-7 los angeles. the fact that the game was broadcasting in the early afternoon slot indicated this wasn't to be a showcase matchup. the patriots were expected to win and win they did. they got an early lead, and the rams never played like it was going to be competitive. i figured new england would run up the score, but the offense sort of just stalled, with the team settling for field goal attempts instead of touchdowns. the good thing was it gave gostkowski more practice, and he made all his kicks. the game was otherwise a little boring, except with the win, tom brady becomes the winningest quarterback in the NFL (including playoffs), with 201 victories, beating peyton manning (200) and brett favre (199). brady still trails in regular season victories (although he has the most playoff victories), with 179 games, behind manning/favre 186, but it's only a matter of time before he beats that record as well. greatest of all times!

all sorts of animals were in the backyard. the suet feeder was temporarily empty, but the seed feeder was still filled to half capacity. chickadees were visiting that feeder non-stop. in the nearby trees i could see clusters of house sparrows, but none of them were brave enough to visit the seed feeder, not with all rubber strings billowing in the wind, with the exception of one sparrow. the monofilament deterrents are still holding! periodically the sparrows would flock to the area below the feeder, looking for crumbs, along with squirrels. i did see one squirrel climb the feeder post but halfway up it abandoned the idea and leapt back onto the lawn. i also saw a wintering goldfinch, but they don't feed from the globe feeder, preferring perch feeders instead (which we don't have in the backyard).

after dinner i rode back home, temperature at 32°. i took a shower and settled in to watch the season finale of westworld. i was streaming it via HBOGo but i got impatient and tried to jump forward the intro. that turned out to be a mistake, because i couldn't restart the stream, maybe just too many people were watching. instead i watched the panthers-seahawks game. seattle is the team i wish new england could be. they play so effortlessly, and watching them is fun, as they find creative wins to score points and win. if i was being completely objective, i feel like the seahawks are the team that will win the superbowl this year. 30 minutes later i tried HBOGo again and finally managed to open a stream.

after finishing a season of westworld, i like the show despite having questions about the plot. not sure if i read about it or found out myself, but when the man in black revealed himself to be william, i wasn't surprised, i already assumed that's who he was. but the transition from good guy william to bad guy william i just don't buy, it came so abruptly that it's jarring, just a poorly written character, it's so clumsy i wonder if they shoehorned that story line after the fact. also if ford was so pro-android consciousness, why did he come off as a bad guy, killing bernard (who was later resurrected by felix the technician), and then having dolores kill him in the end? charlotte hale and lee sizemore were also behind a scheme that involved the peter abernathy android, but that storyline never got resolved. i like the show, i like the premise, but the plot holes make my head hurt if i think too much about the show. nevertheless, i look forward to season 2 in 2018.

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i biked down to haymarket in the afternoon to put in the paperwork for a handicap parking placard at the nearby RMV headquarter. i was actually afraid to go biking, having not biked to boston in a while.1 my last trip to haymarket was back in early november, and that was accomplish via commuter rail in a proof-of-concept experiment. in fact, the last time i actually biked into boston was all the way back in september, when i took cristina's boyfriend kiki on a tour of the city, 72 days ago! so it really has been a while. that also not surprisingly coincided with my subsequent weight gain. anyway, it was easy once i got started, and the weather wasn't a problem (temperature in the upper 40's) because i quickly warmed up. i did struggle a little bit with my endurance, but that's because i haven't been riding long distance in a while.

i wasn't expecting to get the placard today so i was surprised when the secretary told me i could wait and she'd have it ready in 10 minutes. as far as RMV's go, the boston HQ wasn't so bad, but i was on the 3rd health service floor, not the 2nd general registry floor. from the window i had a nice view of the greenway and the north end, and there was even free wifi. it turned out to be a 20-minute wait before they called my grand uncle's name. "you're not him," said the clerk when she saw me. she told me that in order to get the placard, my grand uncle has to be present to get his photo taken at any RMV office. once that was done, the photo would be sent to the boston HQ and he'd receive the placard in the mail. she presented me with a letter saying that my grand uncle was already authorized, just needed his photo.

i went downstairs to do some haymarket shopping. this late in the season, there isn't a lot of variety, just the usual fruits and vegetables. i left with: 2 asparagus stalks ($2), 2 lbs. of seedless red grapes ($2), a papaya ($2), $1 worth of long horn peppers ($1.50/lbs.), a strand of garlic ($1.50), $1 worth of tomatoes ($2/3lbs.), and a 3lbs. tube of yuca ($3). what i really wanted was to get some ingredients for making korean kimchi, but they didn't have what i needed (large napa cabbage, daikon radish, garlic chives). fortunately tomorrow morning i'll be in chinatown for dim sum and i can pick up some produce there.

i biked back across the longfellow bridge, stopping to take an obligatory photo of the boston skyline. it was already 3pm, and if i stayed on the bridge another hour i'd be treated to a nice sunset, but i continued with my journey. i had the same endurance problem as before, maybe a bit worse because i was riding all the way to the cafe to drop off some supplies. my aunt lili was there, taking a break from work. i left soon afterwards, trying to get home before it got dark around 4pm.

the obi200 arrived today. set up was easy, using my 2nd gmail account and the google voice phone number associated with that. it should be pretty routine by this point, considering this is the 3rd obi200 i've set up. i'm still kind of awestrucked that all this technology (google voice) is free. all you need is an obi device, internet service, and a phone. anyone who has internet but pays their cable/phone company for a home landline is being scammed. switch to voip and get free phone service. the only downside is if the internet/electricity goes down, you can't use the phone. also, you can't make emergency calls (but that's a feature you can add for a small yearly fee).

my piping rock order of essential oils arrived today as well. the best is frangipani2 ($2.39 15ml), which just smells like a really pretty perfume. spearmint ($3.35) smells like mint, a common scent in oral hygiene products. tea tree ($3.59) reminds me of eucalyptus, but a more medicinal and oily scent (i'm not a fan). finally, there's jasmine ($4.43), which was only an essential oil blend (15ml of 100% pure jasmine would cost $73); the scent is pretty light, and it took a few subsequent sniffs to finally catch a whiff of jasmine.

for dinner i had a pastry i got last night from my parents' place, as well as a bowl of instant miso soup. i started watching narcos on netflix, wanted to see what i've been missing. also supposedly it's filmed on-location in colombia.


1 according to google timeline, i biked a total of 9.1 miles today. a nice workout!

2 the very first time i ever smelled frangipani (and recognized it) was in the former vietnamese imperial capital of hue. since then i've seen elsewhere, most recently when i visited hainan island.

freddy told me last night he'd be leaving between 8:30 to 9:00am, so i woke up at 8am to see him off. doing the math in my head, i thought he was cutting it close for an 11am flight. he ended up not leaving until 9am, which meant he probably wouldn't get to the airport until 10am, with only an hour to check his luggage and go through security. i'd already asked him for the house key last night, so there was no danger of him accidentally taking it with him. despite having a large suitcase, it was surprising light. he also carried two small backpacks. i took a quick check to make sure he didn't leave anything important behind, his room was immaculate, he even made the bed. we shook hands, i told him it was a pleasure learning about colombia and i hoped to visit his home country one day. he said i was the best roommate, but i think he said that out of courtesy rather than actually meaning it, because i hardly did anything while he was here. and with that he has gone.

the weather this morning was nice for a change, with sunny temperature almost in the 60's. it felt more like october than december. because of the all the rain we've had for the past 2 days, the streets were wet in some spots. there was a large water puddle where my street touches beacon street. i could see how it'd be a problem come winter, with it'd freeze over. so i was pleasantly surprised when i saw road crew jackhammering the area and leveling out the embankment to get rid of the puddling.

for the next few hours i was actually kind of worried. i imagined a scenario where freddy arrived late to the airport and missed his flight, and would have to come back to the house. on reddit i heard there was a red line delay this morning, and i wonder if they'd repaired the tracks yet. i should've warned him to leave earlier, although if he left around 8am, that was during peak rush hour, and would've been a nightmare with all his luggage. so i waited. when 11am and 12pm rolled around and i didn't hear from him, i figured no news was good news, and he was on his way back to colombia.

freddy actually didn't leave behind too much, mostly food, which is typical. even his food he managed to eat as much as possible, toasting the last of his bread, making some eggs for breakfast, and finishing his milk. i guess since he was only here for a month, he wouldn't have too many things. he left behind a bottle of head & shoulder shampoo/conditioner and a tube of colgate toothpaste, both spanish versions, which was interesting to see. a bought a container of nesquik chocolate powder ($4.99( from an indian grocery store for some reason; i think he must've went there before he discovered market basket, and thought maybe it was a rare find. he also left some marshmallow mateys cereal which i've never seen before, nor recognize the brand - malt o meal. i think he picked it up from the neighborhood dollar store.

i visited the community garden for another round of larkspur mining and rock collecting. some young teachers were dismantling the student raised bed, hauling away the wooden planks. back at home, i planted the larkspurs around the house.

i rode out to the watertown home depot to pick up the bucket jockey (a rather unusual name for said product) i ordered last week. what should've been a routine pickup ended up taking 20 minutes as the attendant couldn't find my item after searching in vain multiple times. i had to find the same item off of the rack in an aisle at the other end of the store and bring it back to pick-up so they could ring it up. "we have your item," the man told me, "it just wasn't tagged." in belmont i found an empty 5 gallon bucket from the garage and fitted the jockey on top of it. i then went around the house collecting tools to fill all the pockets.

the seed birdfeeder in the backyard toppled over from the windy rainstorms these past few days. when i set the post i didn't put it in the ground too deeply, so it wasn't a surprise. luckily the plastic feeder and the baffle weren't damaged from the fall. i reset the pole (this time a bit deeper) before reattaching the birdfeeder. later when my parents returned home, they brought the monofilament fishing line i'd ordered from amazon. i got the 10 lbs. clear (650 yards) for just $2. i cut a few 12" strands and taped them onto the baffle of the suet feeder as sparrow deterrent. i'll have to see this weekend if it actually works or not. at the very least it's more transparent than the rubber strings i used on the seed feeder.

yesterday i signed up my father for the foodserv certification course next week; today i helped him get his allergen certification. it involves watching a 10-minute video (that had all the hallmarks of a grainy 90's production video) and then printing out a certificate. the cost? $10, and the certification is good for 5 years. i watched the video as well, it explains why you see those "notify your server of food allergy" notices whenever you visit a restaurant. the state makes you watch the video to absolve them of responsibility, and restaurants put up allergy signs to absolve them of potential lawsuits. if i had a restaurant, i'd put a sign saying that people with food allergies shouldn't eat here. if eating a peanut could potentially kill you, then you really shouldn't be risking your life by eating out.

the health inspector also wanted a HACCP plan for sushi. this involves creating a detailed report with lab tests and flowcharts and diagrams, i haven't seen anything this complicated since my days as an engineering student. my parents are hoping to explain to the inspector (when she revisits next week) that they don't use any raw ingredients in their sushi. if the city still requires a HACCP plan, then my parents said they won't sell sushi anymore.

after dinner my parents went to the airport to pick up my sister's godmother who was returning to boston after taking a vacation in taiwan. my mother asked me to dogsit for a little while. when 8pm rolled around and i noticed everyone was already at the cafe, i decided to ride home before it got too cold.

it was strange coming back to an empty house. i don't know how long it takes before i get used to living alone again, but i know it takes more than one night, because i still think freddy is here. the surest way to "exorcise the ghost of roommate past" would be to sleep in the guest bedroom, but i want to wash the sheets first before i do that.

actually, i haven't slept in that room for well over a year. august of 2015 was when laura the astrophysicist stayed at my place for less than a week (i was actually in new york city at the time, left a housekey outside for her to find). then she recommended her jetsetting friend ana, who stayed for september-october-november. ana in turn recommended doctor alfonso, who stayed for the month of december (along with his spanish friend mauricio the drug tester who crashed on the couch for a few days). once alfonso left, mary the crazy harvard visiting scholar moved in the 3rd week of january, and lived here while i left for chongqing in april-may. of course that didn't end well, and when i returned home in june, she'd already moved out.

during the summer i could've moved into the guest bedroom, but with the broken door and the bad vibe mary left behind, i slept in my own bedroom instead. then in august doctor cristina stayed here for 2 months, which prompted me to finally get the door fixed/painted and properly clean out the room. not only cristina, but her boyfriend kiki the cosmetologist stayed a week as well. and of course freddy was here for the month of november.

from august 2015 to december 2016, this house has been home to a total of 8 other people (5 spaniards, 1 chinese, 1 mexican, 1 colombian). only now do i have the guest bedroom to myself again.

it was another day of rain to end the month of november, but the bulk of it wouldn't arrive until the afternoon, so i had some stable weather to run errands. i biked to market basket to pick up a few things, including some items for my parents (milk, eggs). i bumped into michael with his son, he told me the reason why he hasn't contacted me recently was because his computer was working fine. riding back home, it started to rain a little bit. i walked to star market to pick up a few more things, including a few boxes of linguine noodles i forgot to buy earlier, a box of twinkies ($3, for my grand uncle, they didn't have them at MB), and a box of bengal spice tea ($3).

i rode to the cafe to drop off the supplies and to help my father sign up for a food server health certification class next week. they were both busy cleaning the cafe in preparation for the health inspector visit next week as well. i also painted over some scuff marks (with elephant gray) on the wall behind a high chair my mother usually sits at (this was something she asked me to do a while back).

i left with a burger king breakfast sandwich my mother had purchased this morning when she and my 2nd aunt were taking their morning stroll around fresh pond. i got home by 2pm, where i could finally have some lunch and unwind. in 2 more hours was sunset and rest of the daylight hours.

i finally watched all the president's men (1976) for the very first time, the film about the watergate investigation. i feel like it's a timely movie because i expect there will be plenty of corruption (or overall incompetence) during the trump administration, and it will be journalists like woodward and bernstein whom will bring down the presidency. it's also interesting seeing how investigations were done 40 years ago.

for dinner i heated up a frozen burrito, and accidentally burned the roof of my mouth. freddy had a final piece of steak thawing in the sink, his last meal in america. i was expecting him to be home early, but he didn't come home until 10:30p. i figured maybe on his last day he went out for a farewell dinner with his coworkers, but he told me he was just in at the clinic shadowing a doctor. he didn't even have dinner yet, and i already put the steak in the fridge, figuring he wasn't going to eat it. the rest of the evening he cooked his steak for dinner and did a load of laundry. the dryer was finally done by 12:30am.

i went to sleep late last night. maybe i had too much tea. maybe it was because the internet went down around 3am (when i should've already been asleep) and i woke up to fix it and discovered it was a comcast server issue (15 minutes later i went back online). whatever it was, the end result was waking up late, around 11am.

it rained throughout the day, i never once left the house. in the news i saw that gatlinburg tennessee was burning due to wildfires. the smoky mountains! if only all this rain could be magically transported there. where was all this rain back during the summer? the weather was so overcast that i had the living room lights on by 3:00pm.

since i wasn't going outside, i kept it domestic, vacuuming the floors and doing a load of laundry. the kitchen rug was particularly dirty, with little bits of crumbs from freddy's various cooking adventures. but it gave me a chance to use the shark rocket, a vacuum i love more and more everytime i use it. it seems to have as much sucking power as the dyson, but easier to use.

as for laundry, while cleaning leftover lint from the lint trap, i found long girl hairs. that's proof that catalina had been doing laundry at my place on sunday. it wouldn't be the first time that somebody who didn't live here came over to use the washing machine. my very first roommate mike, his girlfriend came over unexpectedly during winter break to do her laundry.

it took me 3 weeks, but i finally finished watching don't breathe (2016), the horror thriller about 3 young thieves robbing a blind veteran who end up getting more than they bargained for. it's not the easiest film to watch, very suspenseful, with a lot of jump scare and the possibility of violence around every dark corner. so i managed to only watch it a few minutes a day at most. i'd read somewhere that there was graphic sexual content, but even close to the end i didn't see anything, until it finally showed up; how graphic entirely depends on your grossness tolerance. now that i've seen the movie, i think it's an okay thriller. i'd like to see jane levy in some light romantic comedy instead; this film and the evil dead (2013) reboots makes her seem like the go-to girl for splatterfilms.

freddy came home a bit after 7:30pm. he was giving a presentation today and was all dressed up with fancy shoes and a tie. i heated a french bread pizza in the oven for dinner. he warmed up some chicken nuggets. in less than 36 hours he will be on his way back to colombia. he's only been here a month but somehow it felt longer than that. i look forward to solo living again.

the gutter guys came this morning to clean out our gutters. i wasn't notified, maybe they came on their own. typically they just scoop out the leaves with their hands, but they upped their game this year, sounded like they were using a leafblower.

i tried some of freddy's chicken-beef lasagna for lunch, warmed up 2 slices in the toaster oven. it was good, the top a little crusty from reheating, but quite filling. he only used one cheese - mozzarella - for the topping. one thing i noticed was how oily it was. maybe the lack of ricotta causes the fat from the beef to come out when i heat it.

bath tub drain update: the drain seems to be working again, even though it still seemed slow to drain after i poured in a bottle of drain-o. i'm curious to know what exactly is down there that's causing the blockage? i still think it's a piece of the drain plug assembly, that's why i can't seem to get my plastic snake very far down into the pipe. but anyway, it's working again, draining well, gurgles while i shower, which is music to my ears.

i weighed myself: i'm now at 147 lbs. compared that to the summer, when on one particularly hot and sweaty day i managed to clock in at 139 lbs. i can already feel a tightness in my clothes. it seems like after every thanksgiving i put on some weight which then doesn't come off until the following summer. hopefully once they get huron avenue fixed i can begin biking again, which if not reducing my weight, will at least halt its steady advance.

i went to the community garden to collect more rocks. it won't be long now, in a few more weeks, all of this - at least the plots on the right side of the garden - will all be torn up to make a new path into the park. i was surprised to find a note in the latest garden e-mail that my plot was already designated as abandoned and that they needed help in moving any remaining bricks to the other side of the garden by december 1st. i was afraid some good samaritan had already done that but happy to see my plot just the way i left it last time. i moved some good bricks and rocks into my bike baskets, and moved a few broken bricks to the side of the garden. i need to come back one more time to collect the final rocks.

in belmont, i noticed the rubber strings i placed around the seed feeder seemed to be doing there job, because i didn't see a single sparrow visit the feeder, although there was plenty of chickadees. not that the sparrows weren't there, i could see a few lurking in the trees, but somehow they were avoiding the feeder today. i'm not going to fool myself: it's only a matter of time before the sparrows find enough courage to make attempts at the feeder, and once a few are successful, the rest will follow. that's why i still need to get my hands on actual transparent monofilament fishlines and make better "deterrent fibers" to keep the sparrows away. all of this won't keep the squirrels though, which is another problem. i've been told they've already been snacking on the suet feeder, but i haven't seen it for myself.

rtsp streaming pi zero update: it worked great, especially after i changed the scripts and added a cron job that will automatically restart omxplayer if it loses connection. it also made good use of a spare LCD monitor. the problem was the monitor was simply too big for a discreet monitoring station. also there was no way to pan the camera (other than to use the phone app) and lack of audio. instead he used one of the china android tablets to run tinycam monitor pro; it's discreet, it's portable, the only downside is it has to be charged in all the time because it has a weak battery life.

my parents brought back the anker 4-port charger and the anker essential oil diffuser. the diffuser was for my sister so i left it in the box, but the charger i gave to my parents to use. my father immediately plugged 2 tablets into the device.

the temperature outside had already dropped to 32° by the time i decided to head home. the motorcycle was stubborn again, had to gently coax the engine to life by carefully toggling the choke button. the ride home wasn't too bad, my hands were a little cold, but it wasn't terrible. late autumn rides used to be feel so much worse, i think it was because my old honda rebel didn't have a windshield. once the temperature drops below freezing and if i'm still riding, i'll pull out my chinese handlebar mitts. so far this year i haven't put on my thermal underwear yet, so it's not that cold - yet.

earlier i turned up the heat when i noticed freddy was home by 6:30pm. in the kitchen sink was an empty lasagna dish, looked like he finished the rest of the lasagna. he came out of his room to ask me if i was renting out by place in late january/early february. apparently paula has a mexican doctor in mind who's looking for a place to stay. i asked him how long (he didn't know) and told him to have paula get in touch with me directly.