i've finally gotten used to my new kitchen LED recessed lights. the first few days after i initially installed them last week, i was still getting used to the slight color shift (2700k vs 3000k). but now they seem perfectly normal, and i can't tell the difference between the new lights and old lights anymore. the bulbs are only set to 80% via dimmer switches, so it's kind of amazing that they can be even brighter yet use just a quarter of the electricity. i really can't wait to see my next electricity bill, although to be honest, with longer summer days, i don't open my kitchen lights all that much. if i really want to see a change in my electricity bill, i might want to replace that old fridge from the early 90's: not energystar compliant and condenses water out a back hose.
i made an english muffin egg and chicken sausage sandwich for lunch today. i cooked the egg in some butter on a small frying pan while baking the chicken sausage pieces in the toaster oven. later i toasted the english muffin. every time i eat chicken sausages i wonder to myself: what are the casing made from? can't be from chicken (they have small intestines), but i can't imagine they'd be from some other animal either. whatever the answer might be, it won't stop be from enjoying delicious chicken sausages!
eversource sent me certified mail last week with an urgent message to get my gas pipes inspected. apparently they do this every 3 years. the letter said they exhausted all their efforts to reach me and this was the final notice before they might be forced to shut off my gas service due to uninspected pipes. however, i just had my gas meter replaced back in early february, so wouldn't they have tested it then? so i finally called them this morning. the woman i spoke with said i didn't need an inspection since i just had my meter replaced, but she had to confirm this with her supervisor, and told me she'd call me back. less than an hour later i got a call but i didn't find out until much later. she didn't leave a message, so i'm assuming it was just to tell me i didn't need an inspection.
when i used the bathroom this morning, there was no more bloody stool. was this an end to my rectal issue? only time will tell. hemorrhoids are finicky things due to where they're typically situated, an area of the body that gets stretched daily.
i went to the community garden in the early afternoon to plant the vegetables i picked up yesterday: thai basil, thai chili pepper, and a bush goliath tomato. this late in the season they don't sell six packs anymore (at least not at home depot), as any seedlings of that size wouldn't have enough time to reach maturity. unlike last time, there was actually another gardener there, an older woman whom i haven't seen before working in a centrally located plot. she wasn't one of those friendly gardeners, never bothered to say any greetings. later a gay couple wandered into the garden, sat on a park bench for a while, admiring the scenery before leaving. although there were a bunch of seedlings in the pepper and basil plants, i didn't bother separating them out, but instead plant the whole thing. i also spent some time supporting the larkspurs and hollyhocks with tomato cages, as they seemed to be toppling from growing too tall and thin. after watering my garden i walked back home.
i biked to belmont around 2pm. i was hoping to take out the motorcycle today. i found the battery still trickle-charging in the house and installed it back onto the bike. there shouldn't have been an battery issues but i couldn't get the bike to start. i decided to wait until my father returned home, maybe the bike needed to be leveled in order for the engine to kick in after a 6 month hiatus.
when my parents returned home around 3:30pm, my father and i were out in the backyard pruning some bushes. the lilacs were overgrown and need a trimming, and some stray walnuts and maples needed to be cut down (walnut in particular was overshadowing a hydrangea plant that never saw enough sun to bloom).
we had chinese dumplings for dinner. earlier i finished the bag of lychees (lizhi) i brought back from new york. afterwards we ordered new solar shades online for the sun room after taking some final measurements. the final cost turned out to be $450, $65 of which was additional shipping since one of the roller shades was oversized. they're scheduled to arrive the first week of july. once we install them the sunroom will be usable again, as currently the southern-facing room is too hot ever since we uninstalled the old roller shades last year.
my father helped me restart the motorcycle. the trick was turning on the choke, something i'd completely forgotten about. but as the two cars were already in the driveway, it would've been too much hassle to get the bike out from the garage, so i decided to retrieve it another day (most likely saturday). i'm not particularly itching to get back on the motorcycle. despite it's small size, it's still a hassle to find a good parking spot in my neighborhood. and at least one neighbor has already complained when i park defensively and take up a whole car spot. also, motorcycles are inherently dangerous, and i've become quite risk adversed the older i get. but maybe all that will change once i get back on the honda. it just takes one ride to fall back in love with motorcycling again.
my mother called me at 10:40am. "where are you?" she asked. i was scheduled to meet them (my mother and 2nd aunt) at the cafe at 10am with housing forms i was supposed to get from the cambridge library. i was still asleep when she called. must've been because i didn't get a good night's sleep the night before. i quickly got out of bed, took a shower, and biked down to the library. i picked up the forms (a thick stack of paperwork) then cycled to the cafe. i arrive by 11:20am, completely out of breath. my aunt is trying to get public housing. the forms i picked up was for a place in cambridge, which isn't due until the first week of july. she was trying to sign up for another place in boston (right in chinatown), with a submission dead of thursday. i helped her fill out that form. afterwards i had a lychee bubble ice tea and a bowl of spicy sesame noodles for lunch before returning home.
i was watching the cleveland cavaliers championship parade on television. apparently 1.3 million people showed up for the event and the city was just a sea of people. i'm trying to remember how many people showed up for the red sox world series championship parade back in 2004. the official mayor menino's count for that event was 3.2 million people, but the route was much longer, and the red sox had a much longer wait for that championship (86 years).
i changed the screen cover on my iphone 5s. the old cover had been peeling from a corner and had gotten to the point where i couldn't clearly see the screen anymore. i cleaned the phone the best i could, use a kitchen paper bowl and some alcohol, followed by a lint-free cloth, then removing any additional dust particles with some tape. my first attempt was a failure: too many bubbles, and it wasn't even the right size (i think the cover was for an iphone 4; i only got it so i could cut it down to size to use as a screen cover for the 3" LCD on my dSLR). the second attempt was better (the right size at least).
i went with my parents sometime after 2pm to 1) return a few things at ac moore, 2) buy some vegetable seedlings from home depot, 3) visit the super market basket in chelsea, and 4) return a few things at ocean state job lot. we ended up spending over $40 on seedlings, which is the typical cost of indoor greenhouse maintenance (mostly electricity bill increase), but for far less plants than compared to if i grew my own. so i think growing my own seedlings is a far more economic option. after that we decided to stop for food at riley's roast beef.
i had the barbecue pulled beef sandwich which was okay. the sandwich itself is kind of sparse, not even a piece of lettuce, just a mound of meat between two buns. it did come with some coleslaw, corn bread, and a drink. my father got the seafood platter, my mother the classic roast beef sandwich. i've never been a fan of riley's roast beef. i find it sort of bland, and the roast beef always seem to be on the raw side that it makes me gag a little bit when i eat it. both my parents' order came with onion rings and fries. the rings were super hard for some reason, hurt my teeth just trying to eat it.
as it was already 3:30pm by the time we began eating, we decided not to go to market basket since it'd use up too much time. besides, it was approaching rush hour, and we didn't want to get stuck in chelsea. instead we went to ocean state job lot instead. my mother had more time to browse. i picked up a container of round-up herbicide and a t-shirt.
back in belmont by 6pm, my father and i were busy in the backyard planting the seedlings we bought earlier. we got 2 cherry tomatoes, 3 different variety of hot peppers, a japanese eggplant, some sweet basil, and a clump of thai basil. my father separated out the thai basil so we could get more plants. later we put up a clothesline for my mother. my father stayed outside, playing around with a rotary saw blade kit he bought from harbor freight earlier. he came in minutes later and said he nearly has an accident when the saw blade flew off the dremel tool and buried the blade deep into the dirt (instead of, say, his skull). he was going to use the rotating saw to trim so bamboo stalks.
my father later assembled an ikea ingolf bar stool my mother and sister had bought on saturday. since we had an early dinner, nobody was particularly hungry so i got a ride back home to cambridge, along with my 3 plants (a tomato, a hot pepper, a thai basil).
i suddenly had a case of the hemorrhoids late last night. it coincided with a bout of constipated diarrhea, if that's even a thing. as i kept going to the bathroom, it became more and more painful. i had some old hemorrhoidal cream stashed in some bathroom drawer that i managed to find. it didn't seem to do anything. it hurt so much that i had to sleep on my side, to prevent any pressure on my rear end. i had a hard time sleeping and by 6am i was still partially awake.
once i dropped off my groceries, i went out again to walgreens. that's my local pharmacy of choice when i need to buy something embarrassing. i was there to buy some preparation-h. the one i have at home is just some generic store brand hemorrhoidal cream; i wanted to get something name brand; i think my ass deserves the very best. i returned home and tried the new cream. i didn't really that much difference, maybe more of a slight tingle. by that point my bowels had already calmed down since this morning.
one thing i never noticed is that my old hemorrhoidal cream contains shark liver oil (glycerin 12%, petrolatum 18%, shark liver oil 3%, phenylephrine HCl 0.25%). shark liver oil? what else is there, grounded deer antlers and tiger bones? but i did some research, and that's actually a real ingredient often found in hemorrhoidal creams, despite the fact that sharks are becoming endangered from overhunting. it's used as a moisturizer, but has no scientifically proven medical benefits otherwise. shark liver oil is not found in my new preparation-h cream however, although it used to be, before a recent reformulation.
i did 2 loads of laundry, a bunch of dirty clothes followed by my bedsheets. despite not really sleeping too much last night, i didn't take a nap today.
for dinner i heated up 2 nathan hot dogs, which is ironic, since i was just down in coney island this past weekend. tonight's highlight was the series finale of person of interest. although it was sad to see the series end, i think it was also time. i just love and cast and hope to follow them in their future endeavors.
summer officially begins today yet i haven't plant a single thing. normally i'd have my seedlings transplanted by mid-to-late may. unfortunately the seeds i planted before i left for china produced stunted seedlings. this season i have no choice but to buy my plants. i biked down to pemberton farms around noontime. the weather was hot - in the mid 80's - but dry so it wasn't too bad. this late in the season, they only had a few vegetable plants left, and what they had many had twisted stems from neglect. nothing looked good but i didn't want to leave empty-handed so i picked up a half dozen eggplant seedlings for $3.49 (unknown variety, just said "eggplant"). i had an empty box strapped to the back of my bike to transport the seedlings home.
i went to visit the community garden first to plant the eggplants. i think my plot has the biggest color display with a field of larkspur in various shades of purple and pink. my maroon hollyhock has also bloomed. i don't see any other gardeners with either larkspurs/delphiniums or hollyhocks. probably the reason why nobody from the garden committee has hassled me for neglecting my plot is simply because it looks like i've put in a lot of work, even though everything that's currently growing were all self-sown. the mulberries have also started falling, but it's still early so i don't have a mulberry carpet yet.
i planted the eggplants which was an ordeal in the hot weather. by the time i was done, my face was covered in sweat, streaking all over my glasses. there's probably a good reason why nobody visits the garden in the middle of the day. i got the hose and watered the garden. i also did a bit of weeding (pulling out some crabgrass and wild morning glory seedlings) and set up some tomato cages to prevent some of the taller larkspurs from toppling over. i also caged a single wild tomato, maybe that's my only tomato of the season.
before i left, i brought in all the empty garden refuse containers. after returning home and taking a shower, i went out again briefly to star market to get some more cherries and some snacks (potato chips, brownie mix).
my mother called while i was in the garden, a friend of my father's was in town and invited them out to dinner tonight. i wasn't included, but i was more than happy to stay home and cook for myself. i watched believeland on streaming ESPN then fell asleep on the couch around 4pm, waking up sometime after 7pm.
i didn't have dinner until after 9pm, some simple cheese tortellini with pasta sauce.
leaving the house enroute to belmont for sunday, i ran into one of my neighbors. she asked me if i knew anything about the block party, which i thought happened yesterday, but they must've rescheduled it for today. i was carrying not only 2 bottles of baijiu in my backpack, but a bag of lizhi and a bag of zongzi in my messenger bag, which dangled near my legs and made it hard to pedal. i ended up slinging the bag over my backpack, which must've looked ridiculous but it got the job done.
in belmont my mother and i tried the zongzi i bought on a chinatown street corner, one taiwanese style, one cantonese style. each one was wrapped in 4 pieces of thin bamboo leaves. the taiwanese zongzi was tetrahedral in shape and stuffed with boiled peanuts, mushrooms, and some pork. my mother complained that there wasn't enough meat, given how cheap the price of pork is. the cantonese zongzi was rectangular, stuffed with just pork and yellow bean paste. it wasn't as flavorful as the taiwanese zongzi.
my mother was watching bosch on amazon prime via the roku 3. she uses the roku so much now that she hasn't touched the mango tv box in a while, so long ago that she doesn't know where the box remote is anymore. i heard about bosch but never watched an episode. i think the series itself is so-so, but what's fascinating is the number of wire actors in the show, either as full-time cast members or cameos.
my sister came home in the late afternoon, insistent that we have some sort of barbecue. she did most of the food preparation. i like my barbecue traditional, so i wasn't thrilled with her curry burgers or mint-flavored chicken.
while i was casually pulling out wild jerusalem artichokes from the western perennial bed, i felt a sharp pain on my hand. at first i thought it was a thorn, but i was wearing gardening gloves. even when i took them off, i couldn't figure out where the pain came from. i deduced that something had stung me, but i couldn't find the insect that did it. i was worried it might be a spider bite, but i'd been wearing the gloves for a while, so if it was a spider hiding inside, it would've stung me much earlier. whatever it was, it hurt like hell. i stopped everything i was doing and ran to the bathroom to wash off my hand. there was a little prick mark on my right ring finger. later there was some swelling on my knuckle and the pain stayed with me for the rest of the night, although the worst was in the first few hours.
my grand uncle called while we were eating, something about his tv not working anymore. after we finished, i biked down to his place to see what the problem was. turns out the remote's battery was out of juice. i took out a pair of AA batteries from my external flash as a temporary fix. i turned to ABC because i knew he wanted to watch game 7 of the NBA finals which was happening in less than 30 minutes. i asked him which team he wanted to win - the warriors or the cavaliers - but i didn't understand his answer.
i took a quick shower when i got home and settled down to watch the game by 8pm. it 9pm i had the difficult choice of continuing watching the NBA or turn the channel to watch the penultimate episode of game of thrones on HBO. i decided to stick with basketball, since the episode would replay again later in the evening. it was a a close game, with multiple lead changes and neither team up by more than single digits. in the final few minutes, both teams looked hesitant, neither could score, as the tension mounted and time ticked off the clock. once cleveland gained the lead however, there was no turning back, as the clock finally wound down to zero and the cavaliers were NBA champions for the first time, and a cleveland sports team finally wins it all in more than half a century of trying. i spend some time watching the post-game coverage on streaming ESPN before switching over to HBO at 11:30pm to watch the GoT rebroadcast. watching game of thrones was like watching another battle, just like game 7. after the episode was over, i turned back to ESPN to catch more game coverage.
i tried out the 99¢ ikea vaŐąckis alarm clock my mother got me yesterday. it sits in the space where my frog clock used to be (before mary smashed it and tried to flush it down the toilet). the clock is very minimalistic, but does the job. i don't even need it for the alarm feature. the lack of a second hand sort of bothers me, but my old clock didn't have one either. the only problem i have with the vaŐąckis is how loud it is. when i first heard it, i thought it was the sound of a leaking tub faucet dripping on the shower curtain. the ticking isn't really a deal breaker, but i will be on the lookout for a better replacement clock.
the last time i went to the coney island mermaid parade was the summer of 2013, a few weeks before i left for my one year expatriation in china. i could've gone last summer, but somehow just wasn't motivated. after a 3 year hiatus, it was time to go back to see what i've been missing.
i woke up at 4:30am. i wasn't as rushed as i typically am for a new york city trip because i booked a 6:30am lucky star bus. prices have gone up apparently, or maybe it was the weekend rate. i paid $30 to get there, and $22 to come back, and only because i paid in advance online (otherwise it's $30 each way). i used the bathroom and showered. i had time for a bagel, but decided against it in case i had a bad reaction to the cream cheese; i would either have to eat at the manhattan chinatown when i arrived or grab a nathan's hot dog on coney island.
i left by 5:30am. it was going to be a warm day, but there was a brisk chill in the morning air that made me wear me a long-sleeved shirt, which i later took off when i got on the bus. i carried my eddie bauer messenger bag; it was mostly empty since i only brought my dSLR with no other lenses (besides the 18-200mm, i also carried my panasonic lumix and fuji 3D as backups) , but i needed that empty space since i was preparing to bring a few things back from the new york chinatown. there was hardly any people, just one or two people on the porter square subway platform. and my car didn't pick up anymore passengers until we got to kendall square.
i got to south station by 6am. nobody was at the lucky star bus counter yet, except a line of waiting passengers. i got in line until i heard an angry old black shout behind me that the line was behind him, even though he was far away from the line. i murmured my acknowledgement but decided i'd go use the bathroom in the meantime. when i got back the line was a little bit longer. i was behind an old lady pulling a small travel suitcase who was deciding whether she could catch the 6am megabus or stay in line for the 6:30am lucky star. she was chatty, told me she was visiting her 35-year-old brooklyn-living-but-wellesley-raised daughter in midtown to do some shopping at macy's. "you're from new york, right?" she asked me. i was flattered but i told her i grew up in belmont and live in cambridge. she was impressed that i was going down to go see the mermaid parade for the day, something she's always wanted to do. "it's the one with the all the boobs, right?" she asked.
even though i bought my ticket online, i still had to check-in at the bus counter. when i walked down to the bus terminal, once again i was behind the lady in front of me before. it didn't seem like it'd be crowded at first, until more and more people began arriving behind us. when the bus finally left at 6:30am, it was at full capacity. i got a window seat. sitting next to me was an oversized townie adolescent (maybe around 13 years old) playing on his phone. across the aisle diagonally sat his mother, who talked in a thick townie boston accent.
i slept through most of the ride. we stopped at the midway-point burger king, which was surprising, because normally lucky star stops at a chinese buffet place instead (megabus always stops at this spot though). i got out to use the bathroom, then got back to my seat. the bus was full of delicious greasy fast food smell which made me hungry. i sucked on another cough drop, which was the only thing that kept me from a hacking cough but it had the side effect of making my teeth feel furry from all that sugar. i fantasized about brushing my teeth and fell back to sleep.
we finally arrived at the new york city chinatown by 10:40am. there was enough time for me to find a quick place to eat (a restaurant with a bathroom would be ideal) and start heading out to coney island by 11am, probably getting there by noontime, one hour before the 1pm parade. i input "noodles" into google map to bring up the nearest noodle shops. i found a lanzhou noodle shop on eldridge street, which is a street i'm somewhat familiar with, having taken a tour of the eldridge street synagogue last year. the place was empty, except for a few children, lazily watching chinese shows on cell phones on a saturday morning, and some restaurant workers. on one table was a large lump of ground pork dumpling filling. i ordered the mutton lanzhou noodle ($5.50 + $1.50 tip), which came in just a few minutes. it was not very appetizing. the soup looked like dirty dish water, the chunks of mutton smelled terrible and still had the skin on with scorch marks. the only way i was able to eat it was to add a lot of hot sauce to cover up the awful smell. i will never come here again.
from there it was just a short walk to the east broadway subway station to catch the F train to coney island. along the way i stopped in a convenience store to buy 2 bottle of cold water ($2). arriving at the station, i checked to see how much money i had on my expired MTA card ($7); i added $20 more and then received a new card. once the F train was in brooklyn, about 2 dozen college coeds got onboard, off to the see the parade as well. a few mermaids got on as well, one sitting next to me, another standing in front of me adjusting her skimpy flamingo outfit. the coeds excitingly snapped photos, so somewhere out there exists footage of me trying to act normal while surrounded by a sea of boobs.
turns out it was an express train and we arrived at coney island in about 30 minutes. the station was crowded. there were lines for the bathrooms, although the women line was 3x as long. after using the facility, i exited the station. it wasn't even 12pm yet but already most of the viewing spots had been taken. very popular was the self-determined reserved spots, where people had brought beach chairs and roped off their own little area with police tape. i ended up finding a little spot opposite 12th street. it wasn't optimal, i just have to remember to come even earlier next time (if there is a next time). i sprayed sunblock on my head, arms, and legs. i waited for the parade to begin in another hour.
i've photographed enough parades at this point to know the best setting for the camera: aperture priority f8.0 ISO800 autofocus servo. aperture priority allows me to set the aperture to f8.0, which i think gives the best amount of foreground background focus. ISO800 gives me a high shutter speed on such a sunny day, so i was getting shutter speeds of 1/800 to 1/1000 on the average. the AI servo allows the camera to focus continuously, as my subjects are moving.
the end of the procession passed by around 3:30pm. i tried to make it down to the boardwalk as the parade route continues along there, but i was tired, there were too many people, and by that point i just wanted to get home. i made my way back into the crowded subway station. there were so many people that they opened the emergency exits as a safety precaution and i was able to get into the station for free.
i took an F local train back to east broadway. it took nearly a whole hour to get back. as we were approaching manhattan, a group of chinese tourists got on the train. as the train lurched forward, one of the chinese women stumbled backwards. i instinctively braced her so she wouldn't fall, but she stepped on my foot. here's the weird thing: she didn't get off my foot afterwards, nor acknowledged the fact that i saved her from a fall. i gently pushed her away and pulled my foot out from underneath her shoe. then when two people started to get up, she raced over to grab the seats, even pushing one of the guys because he wasn't moving fast enough for her. as she and her friend sat down, she squeezed down to make room for a third, without considering the poor person she was sitting next to. i was close to yelling at her, telling her to go back to china if she's going to be so rude.
exiting in chinatown, i was in search of 2 things: a barber shop and a liquor store. i tried to find the place where i got my hair cut the last time, but couldn't remember where it was. i ended up just going to a random haircut place (bao ying salon). new york chinese barbers do an adequate job, and the price is very inexpensive. the one i went to had a man and woman barber. the man was cutting a man's hair, the woman giving a little girl a haircut while her sister and mother waited nearby. when it came to my turn, the lady gave me my haircut. "long enough on the top to comb, very short on the sides and back," i told her in mandarin, not quite sure if she understood me completely (she could be a cantonese speaker). my time in the air conditioned subway car dried me off well enough that i was sweaty and gross. my haircut seemed okay. i asked how much, thinking it'd be $8 (a bargain), but turns out it was just $6. a $6 haircut! where else in new york city can you get a haircut that cheap? not even in the boston chinatown are they this cheap (i heard $10). i paid $8 and left, rubbing the new stubbles on the back of my head.
actually there was a 3rd thing i wanted to find: a place to have dinner before my 7pm bus ride. i walked down canal street, buying 3 lbs. worth of lizhi for $10; had i walked down a few more blocks, i would've discovered that the going price for lizhi is actually $9 for 3 lbs. i then walked into little italy, and found a nice little vietnamese restaurant (pho bang) on mott street. i got a bowl of pho and a glass of tea with condensed milk ($10.25 total). the pho was so delicious, i closed my eyes with every bite just to savor the flavor. i finished eating by 6:20pm, not realizing how close it was to leaving.
heading back to bus stop, i ran across an old lady on a street corner selling zongzi for $1.50 each. i got 2 taiwanese zongzi and 2 cantonese zongzi.
i walked down to a liquor store on the outskirts of chinatown, figuring i could score some cheaper baijiu, but it was actually more expensive, $17 per bottle of wuliangye. so i went back to the liquor store around the corner from the lucky star office, where it was only $13 a bottle. i got 2 bottles of wuliangye and 1 bottle of luzhou biajiu ($13 as well).
i went to the lucky star office to check-in with 15 minutes to spare. there was a line but only a handful of people. the bus turned out to be pretty empty, so that everyone who wanted 2 seats could find one. we left soon after 7pm. a sense of relief washed over me.
as i was sitting on the left side of the bus, i had a good view of the new york city skyline as we left the city. we left manhattan via a route i hadn't seen before, down 1st avenue, until we got to the queens midtown tunnel. i stayed awake long enough to watch the sunset. afterwards i went to sleep. we stopped at burger king again with about an hour and a half left before arriving back in boston. we finally got to south station by 11:20pm. from there it was a simple hop on the red line back to cambridge. i got home by midnight.
every time i go to the mermaid parade i swear it's my last one. the hassle is just too great. but then i get home and see all the photos i've taken, and i can't wait until the next mermaid parade.
i went with my father back to costco to return the BR30 led lights and the electric toothbrushes we bought a week ago. the lights didn't work because they poked too far out from the recessed canisters that they were glaring. the toothbrushes simply because i managed to fix my old one. we stopped at the somerville market basket before i finally came back home.
i installed a single PAR30 LED bulb and noticed the improvement immediately. they didn't glare and was close to the original halogen bulb color. so i went ahead and replaced the other halogen bulbs - 10 in total. the LED bulbs are 3000K in color, while the halogens were 2700K. the LED's are slightly whiter, but still have a slight warmish hue, which is what i like. the LED's actually do put out more light than the halogens - 750 lumens versus 530 lumens - but use only about a quarter of the electricity per bulb - 13 watts versus 50 watts. but i discovered if i lower the dimmer switch to about 80%, i can closely match the brightness of the halogens. besides, the halogens have a life of 2000 hours, and they haven't been replaced in the 14 years i've lived here, so they're probably near the end of their life span, so perhaps when i originally got them they might've actually been brighter than they are now. so now when i turn on all the recessed lights in my kitchen (all 10), instead of using 500 watts of power, it now only consumes 130 watts, like turning on less than 3 halogen light bulbs. that's pretty amazing. i can't wait to get my next electricity bill!
my stilwell book arrived today. although used, it was still in pretty good condition, but it had a basement smell to it, which i hope will go away if i leave it out a few days. it's a big book - more than 600 pages - and i don't think i'll ever read it completely. i'm just interested in his time spent in chongqing (spelled "chungking" in the book using the old romanization), having visited the stilwell museum while i was there.
i went to rite aid to get more cough drops and some sun tan lotion. i'm going to the mermaid parade in coney island tomorrow and proper sun protection is essential as i'll be standing out in the sun for 5+ hours.
star market is having a sale on cherries this week, $1.99/lbs. i picked up two bags, one for me, one for my parents. although not as good as rainier cherries, they're still pretty good. i'll probably pick up another bag or two before the week is out.
if i have time, i'm looking to get a haircut at the new york chinatown while i'm there. i thought i was going to get a haircut when i was in china, but i've had very bad experiences with mainland chinese barbers. it's impossible to get a normal haircut there. everyone is either trying to give you bangs or style your hair into some sort of rooster mane.
for lunch i had a bagel, for dinner i reheated some leftover pizza on the stove for a crunchy crust.
i finally got around to gluing my pressed flowers onto the glass frame. using a toothpick, i put a tiny dab of mod podge glue onto the back of each flower before setting them in place. i've never used mod podge before, and up until a few days ago, never even heard of it (although i probably seen it in crafts stores). i thought it was some sort of magical glue given all the online hype, but when i opened it up, it looked all white and syrupy, just like elmer's glue (although supposed to be clear once dried). so what's all the fuss? couldn't i have just used elmer's glue instead? but a bit more research online revealed a whole crafty world of mod podgers and the art of decoupage. they swear by their mod podge, saying that it's better than regular craft glue. there also seems to be a whole slew of things one can do with mod podge besides just gluing things. i couldn't tell, given my limited use of the adhesive, but happy that i was using one of the best craft glues for my project.
in the early afternoon i biked to belmont to do some yard work. although the front lawn was recently mowed, the backyard was a little unkept, with down bamboo stalks and overgrown grass. my father came home early to do some yard work as well. while he was cutting the dead bamboo stalks down to size, i was busy trimming the tall grass along the raised beds and pulling out weeds. we also dug up a few escaped bamboos, but there's plenty more to dig up in the rest of the yard. finally my father mowed the backyard.
my mother wasn't in the mood for cooking, which was code for us either getting takeout from burger king or domino's. we decided on pizza, which i ordered online around 5:45pm. my father and i went out to go pick up our order: one bacon onion pepper ring pizza with garlic parmesan sauce, one chicken mushroom red pepper with barbecue sauce. i only managed to eat 3 slices before i was full. i took home 4 more slices when i returned to cambridge around 7:30pm.
with the mod podge properly dried, i set the other glass pane on top of the pressed flowers and packed everything back inside the wooden frame. the glued flowers stayed in place. as a final touch, i used an embossing labeler and created a tag that read, "w.sichuan 2014" for the glass frame.
game 6 of the NBA finals was tonight. i watched from the couch and began to slip in and out of sleep, but a lebron james dunk woke me up and i stayed awake to watch the rest of the game. cleveland dominated early, running up the scoring by more than 20 points just in the first quarter. golden state came back though to get within single digits a few times, but they never captured the lead. cavalier's win means a game 7 on sunday. the NBA overlords must be ecstatic! although i must admit, the officiating seemed suspect. the warriors kept getting called for cheap fouls that on replays seemed unwarranted. stephen curry even got ejected from the game after fouling out and throwing his mouthguard into the crowd. that might get called for a one game suspension but it'd be disastrous for the league for their top star can't play in game 7. but definitely cleveland won due to talent plus some one-sided officiating.
i finally got some drugs to fight my persistent cough. medicine in china is sold only through dedicated drugstores. what's confusing is the medicine can either be western or chinese. seen through chinese eyes, both are equally effective. my personal feeling towards chinese medicine is much of it is hogwash. as for western medicine, you find drugs in china that aren't available in the US, particularly medication that are much more potent than they should be. there's also the running rumor that sometimes the medicine is fake. given that chinese medicine for the most part is essentially worthless, it's no surprise that some of the western medicine stock don't work either. basically, buying medicine in china is very unpredictable.
i had some leftover maximum strength mucinex-dm while i was in chongqing that i took to fight my cough. it sort of worked (even though the drugs had a 2010 expiration date), but left me feeling so medicated (side effects: antsy, sleepy, detached from my body) that i only took it at night. i did try to buy some cough medicine when i was in hainan, but the stuff i bought was for treating the flu, had nothing to do with coughing. and sunmeng was adamant that i bought some counterfeit drugs and when i tried to return the unused medication the next day, the pharmacist wouldn't take it back.
i ended up buying a box of maximum strength mucinex-dm from rite aid. mucinex is the brand i turn to whenever i have any sort of coughing or decongestion. there's also mucinex-d which has pseudoephedrine (you need to show id) but i didn't get that because it's for coughs/runny nose and my nose is fine. mucinex-dm is the same ones i took in china, but just not expired yet, which is a good thing. i took a tablet as soon as i got back home.
i went to go meet my mother at the cafe at 2:30pm so we could ride back to belmont together. i took my fuji bike, figuring i could turn on the light show when i returned home in the evening. it was another warm and dry day, so much so that earlier i watered the front and backyard. the sky was an explosion of different clouds. the fuji is so much lighter than my trek cargo, and has bigger 27" wheels compared to the 26" dirt bike wheels on the trek. all those advantages make for a faster fuji bike, that's why i like riding it.
i've been back for almost 2 weeks and i finally went to go see my plant seedlings, the ones my father took care of for me while i was away in china for 2 months. they were all stunted from lack of light, and many had multiple plants, which contributed to their overall miniaturization. they're useless at this point because by the time they're actually big enough to be viable the growing season will be over. this year i will just have to buy all my seedlings. ironically, it will cost me about the same, since with my grow closet setup i typically use about $10/month of extra electricity, so by the time i have transplants, it would've cost me $30-40.
my father didn't come home until almost 5pm. dinner came in the simple form of baby bokchoi and a bowl of steamed eggs. sunset today around 8:30pm, so by the time i biked home at 7:30pm there was still an hour left of daylight, which meant i didn't get to use the lights on my wheels.
after a shower, i watched part 3 of OJ: made in america chromecasting from the ESPN app. actually all the episodes are available online, so i might watch the rest of them later tonight if i can't sleep.