the official boston high for today was 66°F, breaking the record for this day. but according to my wireless temperature sensor, it was 71°F here in cambridge. when the outdoor temperature is warmer than my indoor temperature during the winter, it's an opportunity to open windows and air out the house.

the first thing i did was to drag the large xmas tree from the backyard to the curb. the tree belongs to my upstairs neighbors, and they were supposed to toss it a long time ago. this late in the season, i don't think the city picks up trees anymore. at the very least they should've left it outside, instead of just lying on the backyard on top of some thawing perennials.

after making myself an all-grain english muffin sandwich of egg, honey ham, muenster cheese, and jalapeño sauce, i went back outside again, this time to shovel snow from the large snow pile in front of my house out onto the street, for faster melting. i've been working on this snow pile all week whenever i have a chance.

i didn't know how long i'd have to be home to wait for my UPS packages, but thankfully the delivery van arrived a bit after 2pm. two packages were from frances, but one package was for me, the samsung memory card, the only thing i had to sign for.

i switched to my faster fuji bike to get to belmont. it was so warm i rode in just a t-shirt, even though i brought a pullover and a light jacket in case it got colder later in the evening. my sister had just dropped off hailey. i let her outside to go to the bathroom and had a chance to inspect some perennials. all the larkpurs/delphiniums planted in the ground are doing well, there will be a good showing this coming season. i will try to save some more seedlings from my defunct community garden plot before they tear everything up next month.

when my parents came home we went to the watertown home depot so my father and i could return $50+ of unused supplies, while my mother shopped at marshalls. i also took the opportunity to look for some good seeds, but they didn't have any of the plants i wanted to grow this year so i'll have to buy them online. we met my mother at marshalls where she got an inflatable travel neck pillow.

when i returned home i started on installing an OS for the new raspberry pi3. i have an image of raspbian jessie that i downloaded a few months ago, but i kind of like the option of have multiple different OS's running (raspbian, OSMC, etc.) so i decided on installing NOOBS instead (v2.1 2016-11-29 release).

NOOBS comes in two versions, full and lite. the full comes with raspbian jessie but it's a 4GB behemoth. the lite version is only around 30MB but it needs to download the OS as an initial step (so either way i'm downloading GB's of data). i downloaded the NOOBS lite zip, uncompressed it, and copied all the files onto the 32GB samsung microSDHC card. i also earlier reformatted with the SDFormatter app but i didn't think that was necessary as the card came preformatted.

i plugged in the memory card, a USB keyboard, a wireless mouse, HDMI cable, and finally the power (via microUSB). NOOBS fired up without any problems. it asked me to log into the nearest available wifi. after that it gave me a choice of different OS's to install. i picked raspbian and OSMC, the same 2 OS's i have installed on my first pi3.

midway through the installation, i lost the wifi in my house for some reason. i didn't know it at first, until i tried to turn up the heat and the nest app told me i didn't have wifi. i had to reset the router, but the NOOBS install seemed to be stuck for good, so i pulled the plug on the raspberry pi3 to force a reboot. it went directly into raspbian jessie, which meant that OSMC wasn't installed. otherwise everything worked as expected. it took a few minutes for it to compile a list of available networks before i was able to get wifi. i also disabled bluetooth (it was on as default) and turned on SSH and VNC (off as defaults). finally i changed the localization so at least the time and date would be correct. i rebooted again and held down the shift key to enter NOOBS. just as i suspected, OSMC wasn't installed. however, in order to install OSMC, it seems that i have to reinstall raspbian jessie as well.

i held off on OSMC for the time being. i closed the monitor (AKA my HDTV) so the pi3 could run headless. then from my macbook pro i logged into it via SSH. at first i wasn't able to, because of the security setting on my mac, that it recognized the local IP as already used for another MAC address. i fixed it by editing .ssh/known_hosts and erasing the line containing from there i was able to log in via SSH without any problems. i went ahead and updated the system's package list (sudo apt-get update) before upgrading all packages to the latest versions (sudo apt-get dist-upgrade). update took but a few seconds, but the upgrade took forever (135 upgraded, 62 newly installed). after 3 hours, it seemed to be stuck, and i ended up having to do a manual reboot. when i logged back into raspbian, it couldn't get wifi anymore. this forced me to start all over again, reinstall raspbian, and also OSMC in the process as well.

steve and paul had their music blaring around 7:30pm. my upstairs neighbors don't have an ounce of consideration. it's no wonder not a day goes by where i don't wish them a quick death. maybe it'll happen next week, because apparently they're going on vacation, according to the e-mail steve sent me earlier. they didn't tell me where, not that i cared, just said they'd be back next friday. when they go on vacation, it's like i'm going on vacation as well, from their loud music. i wrote him back, letting them know i brought out the xmas tree for them, but not sure if the city will pick it up (it was still outside when i came home). he didn't write back. the fact that they won't be here tomorrow made me a little bit more tolerant of their loud music. after a while it died down.

karen came home sometime after 8pm, clutching a bag of market basket groceries. she made a tuna salad for dinner, asked if i wanted any. karen told me before she went to bed that she wasn't going to work tomorrow. instead, there was a conference she was attending at harvard at 11am. hopefully this conference takes up the rest of her day and i can still have the house to myself.

sometime after midnight, i went outside to drag the xmas tree back to the backyard. i read that cambridge will only recycle trees the first 2 weeks of january. however, i think they will still take it, but just as trash. anyway, my neighbors forgot to bring it out this morning so it's already too late. up to me to bring it out next week.

i've been trying to decide what to buy with the $100 amazon gift card my aunt and uncle gave me last week. i went through my wishlist looking for things i wanted, but nothing was piquing my interest. should i get some fermentation retainer cups ($8.99)? how about a hillary clinton action figure ($19.99)? maybe a raspberry pi sense HAT ($36.99)? or perhaps the WEN 2305 rotary tool kit ($20)? i was happy to think about it a little more, but amazon was having a special promotion today where i could get $8.62 off on a purchase of $50 or more. that motivated me to buy something today.

i ended up getting another WD 2TB USB 3.0 external hard drive for $61 after the promotional discount. i can never have enough storage space, and i've been meaning to consolidate all my photos (and backups) for the longest time. i also added a little mountainsmith cubik camera pouch for $5.92. hopefully it arrives by monday so my parents can use it with the panasonic lumix ZS40 i'm letting them borrow on their 3 week vacation in taiwan. the ZS40 came with a case but it's not very sturdy.

i still had about $30 left on the gift card, so i went in search of what else i could get. i really wanted the pi sense HAT and would've probably gotten it had i not seen the lightning deal on the sztrokia aromatherapy oil diffuser (russian?). typically amazon sells it for $49.99 (expensive for a diffuser that can only hold 180ml), but for the next hour it was selling for $36.99. i've been meaning to get a diffuser, as i've already gifted both my sister and mother (my mother uses hers daily).

typically a small generic diffuser sells for around $15, so what made me want to spend more than twice that amount for this diffuser? because this one simply looked cool. as a kid growing up in the 80's i've always wanted a plasma globe, and would go stare at the ones they sold at sharper's image whenever i visited the mall. i never did get a plasma globe, but seeing this diffuser left me with that same feeling of awe. the glass outer enclosure uses some sort of holographic printing process to create these repeating bubbles. just from the customer photos alone i could tell it was something amazing to behold. a lot of the reviews raved about how incredible it looked.

so i debated whether or not to get it, and with just 10 minutes left before the deal was over, i finally decided to splurge and buy one. besides being something cool to look at, i also needed a diffuser to get rid of the kitchen cooking smells. after using the gift card and some leftover reward points, i ended up only paying 68¢ for the diffuser. it's scheduled to arrive on friday.

i received a package delivery notice from UPS. at first i thought it was spam, but then i noticed it was coming from samsung. this must be the new replacement microSDHC card! i sent back the defective card exactly a week ago, and already they've sent me a new card. one weird thing was the package required a signature. i hate those because it means i have to stay home and wait for the package to arrive. a microSDHC card is smaller than a postage stamp, couldn't they just slip it through the mail slot? so i'm not expecting to get it thursday even though that's when it's arriving. most likely it'll be friday, after i sign one of their little slips authorizing the delivery person to just leave the package behind. realizing a new memory card was coming stopped me from getting one on amazon.com. i desperately need a new card in order to run my new raspberry pi 3.

in the afternoon i went with my parents for a costco supply run. temperature today was in the upper 50's, a small glimmer of spring in late february. we first paid a quick visit to the nearby everett home depot (one of the more empty HD's i've visited) to get a new flush handle for the upstairs toilet at my grand uncle's place. how those tenants managed to break the handle rod inside i'll never know, but we managed to find a kohler handle that was an exact match (a few dollars more, but worth it to have the same handle). after finishing our supply run, we bought some hot dogs at costco and ate them before leaving. it was my first meal of the day. after two slices of chicken pot pie last night, i wasn't the least bit hungry this morning and didn't have breakfast or lunch.

i played pokemon go the whole time i was in the backseat. i'm desperately in need of pokeballs, after using up my supply catching generation 2 pokemons. today i found a piloswine, which means i don't have to evolve one from my swinubs, even though i might do so anyway just to work on my evolution badge. i really like the new outfit choices for the trainers. the boy styles are pretty boring, but the girl styles can be quite sexy.

after dinner my father gave me a ride home. earlier we put the spare coffee table from the sunroom into the back of the car. we stopped by the cafe to give my 2nd aunt a ride home and to drop off the table. my 2nd uncle was home, feeding from a bowl of fruit off of the kitchen island. ever since they moved to northern cambridge i almost never see my uncle anymore. back when they lived next to the cafe, i'd see him all the time, because he'd often walk by my house on his way to market basket. anyway, it was my first time seeing their new couch, which actually looks pretty nice, seems more expensive that what she paid for it. my aunt told my father how much she loves the sunshine in the mornings.

karen was in her room when i got back home around 8:20pm. i took out the trash. later she came out to chat. i showed her all my used seed packets and we got to talking about gardening.

a very strange thing happened to my macbook pro tonight. at first i thought the cursor was acting funny, but then it started to have a mind of its own, clicking about the screen, swiping to my different space pages, activating mission control, then popping everything offscreen to show the desktop. it seemed like somebody had hijacked my computer and was trying to control my screen. i managed to fight the cursor and turn off wifi, which i figured would kill the remote user, but my cursor was still going crazy, clicking about the screen like a possessed ouija board. i managed to restart the machine, and everything seemed back to normal when i logged back in, but minutes later, the cursor was going crazy again. the wifi was off, so it couldn't be remote access, and neither was the bluetooth. i closed apps, particular chrome, which could've been infected with some malware. that didn't do anything either. finally i notice spotify had been turned on which i don't remember doing, and as soon as i closed that app, i regained control of the computer. however, i don't think it was spotify that caused the problem, and as of now i'm still baffled. i know earlier today i updated my version of wechat. that's the only other thing i can think of. these china apps are always potential security threats, but wechat wasn't active at the time.

i decided i was going to make chicken pot pie again for dinner. in the early afternoon i biked down to market basket to gather the ingredients. from the last time i made it back in early january, i knew one of the problems was the pot pie was too bland. this may just be a case of not adding enough salt (a common complaint in a lot of my recipes), but i wanted to see if i can change the ingredients to add more flavors. there was a sale on chicken breasts, but instead of getting raw cutlets, i came upon the idea of using leftover rotisserie chicken that i were also on sale. the rotisserie would have plenty of flavor already (i often use the leftover bones to make chicken stock).

in the afternoon i decided to bike down to microcenter to buy some raspberry pi's. according to their website, they had more than 10+ pi3's in stock. on amazon they typically sell for around $40 for a barebone unit, but microcenter was selling them for just $30. as for pi zero's, they sell on amazon for around $20, but microcenter has them for only $5 (they were on sale for a while at $1, that's how i picked up two).

i took a bike route recommended by google, which skirts the edge of harvard yard, down broadway, down quincy, down dewolfe, all the way to the river. it's a route that can only be taken by bikes because it needs to traverse the harvard campus to get onto a short stretch of broadway; it's hard to do by car without taking a very circuitous route. quincy and dewolfe are one ways that go directly to the charles. estimated time for the whole trip was just 15 minutes (may even be faster than car travel), but it took me a little longer because i was making frequent stops to check for pokemons. i found two new generation 2 creatures: xatu and chinchou. temperature was around 40°F which is considered warm here during the winter, but a good opportunity to test my new eddie bauer soft shell jacket.

i don't often shop at microcenter these days. back before the online shopping boom (late 90's), microcenter was the only place you could go to find computer peripherals and software, and i'd visit often (once a month if not more). now the only reason to shop here is if i have an emergency and need something right away, since typically their prices are higher than on the internet.

it took me a while to find the barebone raspberry pi 3 i was looking for. now a whole wing of the store is electronic DIY parts. some pi3's were part of a bundle that was more expensive, while other items that looked like pi's were actually just empty cases. finally i found them, in a cage bin secured in individual acrylic theft-deterrent boxes. as advertised, they were only $30 each. i had to ask one of the employees if they had anymore pi zero's; he told me they were fresh out of stock, but were expecting a new shipment possibly next week.

on the way back i crossed memorial drive at dewolfe, then cowperthwaite, bank, mt.auburn, trowbridge, across the public library, to home - another new route i've never tried before but will now incorporate into my mental gps.

speaking of electronic DIY parts, a few that i ordered from china on ebay months ago finally arrived in the mail: micro OTG adapters (3) and transmitter antennas (5, 99¢).

the new pi3 (henceforth known as pi3v2) looks nearly identical to my first pi3 (pi3v1), saving for a piece of high temperature tape on the HDMI port (pi3v1) and some markings on the ethernet and USB ports (pi3v2). i placed the new pi3 in a spare case i happened to have. i also had a set of spare miniature heatsinks, but i wanted to wait and make sure i can power up this pi3 before attaching them. unfortunately i don't have a spare microSDHC memory card, so i can't use the pi3v2 until i order one.

rotisserie chicken pot pie 

1 lb. rotisserie chicken, shredded
2 tbsp butter
1 yellow onion, caramelized
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
1 russet potato, skinned, cubed
1 can chicken broth
1/3 cup of flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt (forgot to add)
ground pepper
2 ready made pie crusts

despite having the day off, karen still went to work today on president's day (although at a more leisurely time of 10am). it was the first time i had the house to myself since the weekend. i had a tea egg for lunch and became engrossed with the details surrounding stalin's death, the anniversary of which will be in less than 2 weeks.

in the afternoon i biked to belmont. temperature was in the upper 40's, the piles of snow continue to melt, leaving behind a mess of broken twigs, pavement asphalt, and road salt in the emerging bike lanes. whenever it snows, cyclists always get left behind. they clear the roads and the sidewalks, but not the bike lanes, which become makeshift parking spots. biking in the winter is so much more dangerous than the other seasons, but some people still do it.

i noticed a few days ago that my makeshift cold frame was damaged. the glass had cracked from either the weight of all that snow or maybe it was the periodically refreezing. i went into the backyard to try and gather up the broken panes of glass, being careful not to slice open my hands.

i was still hungry, but fortunately there was some leftover bertucci's pizzas. my parents didn't return home until the late afternoon, when the sky was already darkening. they brought home hailey, who couldn't seem to sit still, begging to be let outside to use the bathroom, then begging to be fed.

after dinner i biked home. i got back by 8pm, karen was in her room trying to get ahold of a client. from the network data i knew she'd been home since 6:40pm. there was the faint smell of cooking oil, not too much, but still enough to make me wonder if i can stand it for an additional 3 months. there is rarely a day where she doesn't cook, both mornings and nights. no roommate has ever cooked as much. she seems to be conscious of the odors, but no matter how careful she is, when you cook with oil that smell still lingers afterwards. i can only hope that somehow she decides to return home early. or invest heavily in scented candles.

my sister's godmother gave my parents a $25 bertucci's gift card a while back. they've been meaning to use it, but could never find a good time. ordering from bertucci's on a weekday evening was out of the question as the closest restaurant near us was at alewife and the rush hour traffic congestion heading out to route 2 onramp means that's a serious place to avoid. so the only time would be a weekend evening, and that evening was tonight.

online ordering made it so much easier, although i got a feeling their online menu isn't as complete as their physical restaurant menu (or maybe they changed a few things since my last bertucci's visit, like no tuscan wings or clam linguine). we got a large nolio pizza ($19.99) and plate of antipasto ($11.99) for appetizer. i was ready to put in the order but then discovered a $10 off $30+ order coupon online, so we added a small caesar salad ($2.99) to put us over the $25 mark. with taxes minus the $10 off coupon the total came out to just $26.72. using the gift card, we only needed to pay $1.72 for the entire dinner. i also added 6 dinner rolls, which were free.

with just 10 more days before the end of the month, karen finally broached the topic of her future living situation. she originally wanted to stay here until the end of june (news to me, i thought she was here until the end of may, and even then when i first heard about it it was something she didn't tell me beforehand), but her academic advisor at the clinic suddenly told everyone last week that he was quitting. with no advisor (who essentially acts as her boss), karen's stay was left in limbo. fortunately the advisor isn't going far, taking up a new position at a different hospital, but nevertheless it complicates matters. so at one point karen thought about returning home much earlier than originally anticipated, but in the end she decided to stay here for another 3 months (until the end of may), since she could still learn from her time at the clinic.

it was only after all that prefacing did she finally ask if she could stay here until the end of may. not only did i agree, but i also consented to take an additional $100 off of the rent per month. as far as roommates go, she's not all bad, spends most of her days at the clinic, only here on the weekends. i still don't like her cooking smells, but there hasn't been any major flare ups since that one time when she smoked out the house.

i doubt karen could find anything as cheap or as convenient if she searched elsewhere. she really lucked out in scoring my place. but 3 more months? all the roommates i've had for 4 months have ended in disaster. there's just something about living with somebody for that long that slowly grates on me to the point where i wish nothing more than for them to leave. but that's additional money in my pocket, even though it's $300 less (karen will probably use the money she saves to buy her plane ticket back home). it's really not that much money though; back when i had a full-time job, i easily made more than this in a single month. which if nothing else, should really spur me into finding a job.

karen didn't leave for work until 8:30am this morning. i'm increasingly awoken prematurely by the sounds of her going about her morning business in the kitchen. i didn't get out of bed until 9am, got myself ready for my 10:30am annual physical at MGH.

the walk from my house to the subway station was uneventful. i was surprised the city of somerville plowed the fancy new cycle track on beacon street, but falling snow from the high snow banks lining either side of the track meant there was still plenty of icy obstacles. i saw someone actually biking on the track, but also someone just biking out on the street; so much for a dedicated bike lane. i kind of hate the cycle track: i think it's an eyesore, difficult to use, and i wish things could go back to the way it was before. beacon street is just a mess right now, made worse by all the snow, something the city planners failed to take into consideration. one more thing: the cycle track is only on one side of the road (inbound), which means on the way back bikers are forced to ride in the street, with just a sliver of bike lane since the roads are much narrower courtesy of the cycle track (outbound bike lane are currently nonexistent due to all the snow).

i waited half an hour in the waiting room and another 15 minutes in the exam room before i was able to see my doctor. earlier when the nurse took my blood pressure it was surprisingly low, 117/77. that got me thinking maybe i could drop one of the three different HBP medication i'm currently taking. doctor L told me that if my blood pressure was unusually low he might considerate it, but right now it's just holding steady at normal, and he wouldn't want to change up the drugs just yet.

i also asked him about the strange pulsing sensation i feel at the bottom of my left foot sometimes when i'm in bed. he didn't know what it was but told me to take a blood pressure reading next time. i also told him about my persistent cough but he didn't seem too worried about it, didn't say anything when i told him how i normally treat it is by taking a large dosage of mucinex decongestant. finally i showed him my wart and he referred me to a dermatologist, who will contact me within the next few days so i can make an appointment to get rid of it. he signed me up for a bunch of lab works asked for an urine sample before i left. wouldn't you know it, the one time i'm asked to pee in a plastic cup, i eat a bunch of asparagus the night before. i pity the poor lab technician who has to analyze my urine.

i went downstairs to the 5th floor to give blood for the lab works. my phlebotomist was the albanian woman i've met one other time before. she saw that my birthday was just a few days ago and wished me a happy birthday. she also asked what was the secret of looking young, while she collected half a dozen test tubes of dark red blood.

i briefly thought about walking down to chinatown (wasn't so far) to get some lunch and groceries, but the sky was grey and there was a forecast of imminent rain so i decided to return home instead. besides, i didn't eat the whole day, and i had 30 tea eggs waiting for me at home. my mother called me to let me know she and my father were going to a free screening of the great wall tonight, so i'll have to make my own dinner.

i tried one of the tea eggs. even after just a single night of soaking, this tea egg was better than the ones i made back in january. the egg was easier to peel, marbling on the egg white was more pronounced, and the flavor was perfect. in fact, i think they're ready to eat now, no need for additional soaking, although i did divide up the eggs into plastic quart containers and filled them with brine. i forgot to add a tsp of sugar to the brine, but i think the flavor is fine as is.

by late afternoon my preliminary test results for my blood work were already done. i received an e-mail letting me know i could check my data online:

lipid panel
componentmy valuestandard range
HDL40 mg/dL35 - 100 mg/dL
CHOLESTEROL241 mg/dL<200 mg/dL
TRIGLYCERIDES111 mg/dL40 - 150 mg/dL
LDL179 mg/dL50 - 129 mg/dL

basic metabolic panel
componentmy valuestandard range
SODIUM140 mmol/L135 - 145 mmol/L
POTASSIUM3.7 mmol/L3.4 - 5.0 mmol/L
CHLORIDE100 mmol/L98 - 108 mmol/L
CO226 mg/dL23 - 32 mmol/L
BUN11 mmol/L8 - 25 mg/dL
CREATININE0.94 mmol/L0.60 - 1.50 mg/dL
GLUCOSE94 mg/dL70 - 110 mg/dL
CALCIUM10.0 mmol/L8.5 - 10.5 mg/dL
EGFR>60 mL/min/1.73m2mL/min/1.73m2
ANION GAP14 mmol/L3 - 17 mmol/L

i'm right over the limit. even my doctor told me today - without seeing these latest results - that he might consider putting me on some cholesterol medication. i'm already taking 3 different HBP drugs, what's the big deal with adding one more? i like to think i try eating healthy, but really, i think probably only 10% of my diet is actually healthy. the rest is a mix. i've made changes, but they've been incremental at best. my cholesterol also changes depending on the season: during the summer when i'm more active it's slightly lower, and then it goes back up during the winter. but say i really hunker down and seriously eat healthy for 6 months. how much lower could i reduce my cholesterol numbers? or continue the lifestyle i have now, and just fix it through modern pharmacology?

i went to the dollar store in the afternoon to pick up some snacks. not to eat for today, but to store up in my larder for when i have a craving for the sweet and salty (so much for healthy eating). they already removed most of the valentine display, and put up the easter and st.patrick's day items. is st.patrick's day a big deal elsewhere in the united states? or is just in places like boston, where there's a large irish population?

i remember i had some small errands to take care of. first, pay my motor vehicle excise tax ($15). next, pay my credit card balance (i don't use autopay, i do it manually every month). finally, i packaged up the defective samsung microSDHC memory card, sending it free via UPS so i can hopefully get a replacement card.

for dinner i cooked up the other half of my asparagus bundle. i roasted them this time in the toaster oven, drizzled with olive oil, garlic powder, and sea salt. they weren't as good compared to when i sautéed them in the frying pan, but at least this way they didn't smoke and smell up the whole house. i also cooked up a cup of small penne pasta with a simple tomato sauce plus frozen chopped spinach and some parmesan cheese.

karen came home around 7:30pm. i was afraid she walked home from longwoods again, but she took the T today, and stopped by the supermarket before coming home. there was nothing good on television until 10pm, where i streamed the latest episode of legion on FX in my browser (there was an option for chromecasting but every time i selected it, it wouldn't play back on my tv).

with my biannual physical tomorrow morning, i wanted to eat something healthy tonight. as if somehow that would make up for 6 months of giving zero care regarding proper nutrition. i went to the backyard to retrieve my bicycle but paused momentarily as i noticed all the large melting icicles hanging from gutter up above. i could hear them all day, crashing down to the ground, and the alleyway was littered with broken icicle pieces. i quickly made my way down the narrow path, didn't want to be standing there if another chunk of icicle came falling down.

this was my first time biking since our 3 snowstorms. road conditions were not ideal, but i've seen some diehard bikers riding around, so i knew at least it was doable. the sun was out and temperature in the upper 30's. i wasn't going far anyway, just to market basket, and it was all back roads, hardly any traffic. there was a sale on asparagus ($1.99/lbs.) so i got two bundles, as well as a package of spinach & cheese ravioli. i felt healthier already! but i also bought 2 packages of pretzel crisps, so that offset everything.

back at home i put the bike in the basement because i heard it might rain tomorrow. i did some more shoveling, clearing a bit of the snow from the empty parking spot in front of my house. the snow was all hard and compacted, and i ended up having to use a metal spade to chisel out the snow. if we do get some rain tomorrow, it might soften the snow enough that i could try clearing some more of it. otherwise it will all refreeze in the evening making it even harder to clean. while i was shoveling, my next door neighbor walked by and wished me a happy valentine. i wished her the same as well. this is my neighbor which i'v yet to introduce myself even though she and her roommate moved in back in september.

whenever there's a sale on eggs at the supermarket is a good time to make tea eggs. i bought these eggs 2 weekends ago so they've been sitting in the fridge for 10 days. old eggs are better because they're easier to peel. something else i wanted to try this time around was leaving the eggs outside so they reach room temperature before i boil them. this is in the hope that they'll reach the boiling point faster.

use room temperature eggs eggs will come to a boil faster when they're already at room temperature versus straight from the fridge
use old eggs old eggs (in the fridge for at least a week) are easier to peel than fresh eggs from the super market

because there was so much residual cooking oil on the burner (thanks to karen), it actually made the house smell all oily. not so much in the kitchen, but the smell permeated into the living room. after a while it eventually dissipated.

in all the times i've made tea eggs, i've always used store-bought flavor packet kits (茶葉蛋滷包) (when my parents make it they mix their own spices). they don't cost too much ($1.55 for 2 flavor packets and 2 tea packets), and if i were to assemble the ingredients separately (cumin, cinnamon, licorice, anise, bay leaves), it would end up costing me more (but maybe one day i might like to try making my own flavor). i had a tea egg kit in the cupboard, but when i looked inside the box, there was only a flavor packet, no tea package. fortunately the flavor packet is the more important item, since i have plenty of teabags. i ended up using 10 black teabags tied together.

boil eggs in cold water on high heat boiling from cold water instead of dropping eggs into already boiling water prevents eggs from cracking on their own
enough water to barely cover eggs more water means a longer time to reach boiling. use just enough to cover the eggs.
add 1 tsp of salt to the water supposedly helps with the peeling
boil eggs for just a few minutes just hard enough to crack the shells; eggs will continue simmering/cooking in tea egg brine solution

the eggs didn't come to a boil any faster using room-temperature eggs, still approximately 20 minutes before the water came to a boil. i also wasn't sure how long to boil it, my notes said just a few minutes, but to thoroughly cook an egg until it became hard-boiled requires about 10 minutes. i ended up estimating about 4 minutes of boil time before i took the eggs out. i won't find out if the eggs are cooked or not until i try one of the eggs. since the eggs will need to simmer in the brine for another hour, i figured that's more than enough time to cook the eggs.

rinse hard-boiled eggs in cold water so they're cool enough to handle and crack
crack eggshell with back of spoon don't be afraid to really hit the shell to get a nice spiderweb pattern, but not so hard that the shell falls off (a few loose shell pieces is okay though)

i've seen some tea egg recipes that call for soy sauce, which is added for both its salt flavoring and coloring. but the tea eggs i make (and the ones my parents make) use just tea for the coloring. i feel it makes for a more natural tea egg.

simmer cracked eggs in tea egg brine solution on low-medium heat for 1 hour with cover on for 30 eggs: 10 black tea teabags, 1 tea egg flavor packet, 4 tbsp salt, handful of sichuan peppercorns

keep the cover on so the liquid won't evaporate as quickly

let eggs sit in brine for 3 more days the longer the eggs are in the brine solution, the more flavor/coloring it gets

i wasn't sure about the amount of salt. the last time i made tea eggs (last month) it ended up being too salty. that was with 3 tbsp of salt. so i figured i needed to use less this time around, but the last time i made 30 tea eggs, i used 4 tbsp as well. i think the amount of salt has less to do with the amount of eggs (20 eggs 3 tbsp, 30 eggs 4 tbsp) and more to do with how much water i use for the brine solution. when i made 20 eggs, it was with less water (maybe about 1/2 less), so adding 3 tbsp of salt to the mix would definitely make it saltier. when i tasted the brine this time around, it was salty but not crazy salty.

after an hour of simmering, i turned off the stove and let the tea eggs soak in the brine overnight.

for dinner i boiled my spinach ravioli, heated up some tomato sauce with some additional frozen chopped spinach (double spinach), and sautéed the asparagus (half a bundle). i've only recently come to the realization that i really like asparagus. i love the taste, and i love how my pee smells afterwards. i rarely cook it myself however. the last time was back in 2013, when i made a super healthy smoked salmon & walnut & asparagus salad. and before that, i remember one time i made an asparagus recipe that involved a tangy mustard sauce (don't remember the date). and a long time ago (2008) julie came over and made an asparagus chicken wrap recipe. but i think i will start working more asparagus into my diet. and really, i should be eating healthier to begin with. it all depends on what my test results say when i get my physical tomorrow.

i sautéed the asparagus in a large flat pan, cooking it dry without any oil or seasoning. once the stalks began to soften and look cooked, i added some salt and drizzled some olive oil. that turned out to be a mistake, as mixing oil and some residual oil caused a little bit of splattering and a whole lot of smoke, stinking up the house immediately. i also added some chopped garlic.

dinner was pretty good, i would eat asparagus every day if i could. i could still see the smoke hovering in the kitchen so i ended up putting a fan in the window and another fan trying to blow out the smoke.

karen didn't get home until 8:30pm. she told me she walked back from longwoods, which took her an hour and a half. she said she did it because she hasn't been exercising in a while. during the winter, it's hard to exercise. i thought she was late getting home because maybe she went out to dinner with coworkers. she made something quick to eat in the kitchen (i didn't see what, maybe some soup, maybe a sandwich), then retired to her room. she went to bed relatively early, around 10:30pm.