i wasn't planning on watching it, but morbid curiosity got the better of me, so close to noontime i turned on the television to catch the trump inauguration. it wasn't hard to find, virtually every major network was broadcasting it. it still seems a little unreal.
one way to think of it is even if you don't agree with trump (and i vehemently disagree) you still have to root for him because his success is america's success. that's how i felt back in november after he won, after going through the different stages of mourning. but now i don't think that way at all. i don't want trump to succeed (and i know he won't), because his success would give him legitimacy, and legitimacy would only fuel all that i dislike about him and what he stands for, and create more future trumps. i'm rooting for trump to fail, and fail in such a way that it flushes out all the alt-right from the republican party, and american democracy can be a civil government again, not reality-tv played out in real life with real lives at stake. i want him to fail so historically that history will look back on his administration as the worst in US history, as a warning to future generations about the danger of electing a demagogue.
after trump was sworn in, i turned off the tv, i wasn't interested in hearing what he had to say. his words are meaningless anyway, says one thing, does another. for lunch i had a tea egg.
i finally pushed out my trek utility from the kitchen so i could work on it outside (and not dirty up the house). i already knew the rear brake pads needed to be replaced, but i checked anyway in case they were still good. they were worn down pretty badly. these pads seem to be original stock, the ones that came with the v-brakes when i had them replaced. these old worn pads were from a batch i bought back in 2011, so i wonder if it's been that long since i replaced them. fortunately i had plenty of brake pads, from that one time i bought them in bulk from ebay. these bulk pads from china are cheap, but they're not that good, and get worn out faster. plus they reek of rubber, so badly that i need to keep them double-bagged.
replacing the pads should've been easy, but it took me a long time because i discovered i needed to increase the distance between the pads and the tire rim. i ended up rearranging the order of the concave washers, so that the thin ones were inside while the thick ones were outside. i also used the old washers, they seem a better quality than the ones that came with the new pads. once the properly distanced pads were installed, it was an easy matter of tightening the brake cable. finally i oiled the chain, and anywhere else that looked rusty.
searching for those surplus bicycle brake pads, i ended up emptying a significant section of my closet. my dream is to be so organized that i know where everything is in my house and never have to go search for it. the amount of time i waste looking for something is probably pretty significant. even in a small house like mine, it's possible to lose something. i stash it in a box, forgotten about it, and then one day i need to find it again and i end up having to search through all the boxes. i've gotten better with age in terms of organizing, and one of my tricks is using clear plastic bins so i can see what's inside without having to open it one by one. i'm hoping to convert all my storage to clear boxes. anyway, i ended up making a mess of my house, but i figured this would give me a chance to reorganize everything, throw out some stuff.
i went to the cafe to drop off a bag my mother had ordered on ebay (it arrived at my house) along with bed buddy heating pad. i also brought a container of tea eggs. when my mother wasn't working, she was busy knitting pink pussyhats for the women's march. word of mouth has spread and now she's taking orders from a few customers. i heard pink yarn is hard to find in stores these days, but fortunately my mother has a cache of pink yarn. she said it takes her anywhere from 1-2 hours to crochet a single hat. i left with the mechanized drain snake (for my slow draining bathtub), but it requires a power drill to operate, and my father couldn't find the drill.
something was scraping the rim every time i pressed the front brakes. this meant a piece of metal filing had somehow embedded in the brake pad. when i got home i inspected the front brakes. only one pad needed replacing, which is strange because normally they both wear down at the same rate. after that i wheeled the bike away into the basement, figuring i won't be riding for the next few days with a big rainy nor'easter arriving sunday night and into monday and tuesday.
as evening arrived, i'd periodically walk to the end of the kitchen to test whether or not it was cold. it's quite possibly a placebo effect, but i swear that corner of the house is now much warmer than it used to be. however, i did notice there was a small gap between the door and the doorframe, enough so that a slight draft was coming in, especially when the heater was on and air is pumped to the intake register. i applied a strip of flat foam, hoping to block the draft, but the foam was thin enough that it didn't fill the gap. i then noticed that the gap is just big enough for a strip of foam cord, which was what i did next. that seemed to do the trick, no more draft. unfortunately now i can't open the back door without the foam cord falling out. i'll have to look for a better solution but this will do for the time being (i don't use the back door very much anyway).
alex got in touch with me tonight, said that the package i sent him arrived yesterday. that's pretty amazing, it got to japan in about a week. when he sends me stuff, the fastest it's ever arrived is 10 days, but typically 2 weeks or longer. he still hasn't paid me back on the nearly $400 for the things i ordered for him plus cost of shipping.
although i could've eaten some more leftover beef stew, i was reluctant to do so, wanted some variety tonight. so i cooked up a package of xi'an paomo. that definitely hit the spot, and good that i eat it before it expires.
my e-mail is still not fixed. i issued another ticket today, which managed to get a response a short time later. the ticket was marked as fixed, said all i had to do was accept the new security certificates. unfortunately that wasn't the problem i was having, so i reopened the ticket. i did manage to get a live chat going, my tech person was heather d this time. she took a look at my problem, tried sending a test mail, which i didn't receive. the strange thing is e-mails sent to my mail account don't get bounced back, so they're going somewhere, just not in my inbox. she saw that i had some previous tickets pending, and said she would "escalate the issue." by the time i wake up tomorrow morning it will be 48+ hours since my e-mail last worked.
i learned you could make your own 433MHz antenna with dramatically better reception compared to a simple strand of straight wire antenna. so after i found a long piece of twist tie with a metal wire on the inside, i created my own coiled antenna for my 433MHz transmitter. it was a very rough antenna, and both the material and coil wasn't to specification, but i just wanted to see if it'd work. sure enough, i can now turn on and off all the lights in the living room plus the hallway without problems. to my surprise, i can even reach the light at the back door, but for some reason i can only turn on, can't turn off. but a vast improvement over what i had before. i also learned how to string together commands so i can turn all the lights on or off. ebay sells better quality readymade coiled 433MHz antennas for 99¢ per 5; i'll probably order some if i can't find good wires to remake a proper antenna. now the only thing left is to get voice command to work on my raspberry pi and so far i've had no luck.
i woke up this morning unable to log into my primary e-mail account. i noticed since 6am that i stopped getting e-mails. i tried using the web-based mail app - which normally works even if i can't get e-mails anywhere else - and realized that didn't work either. then i logged into the mail admin panel of my webhost to see if i could find anything weird. it took a while before i finally realized that the account itself had been deleted. i checked my admin panel messages and saw a note dated 2 weeks saying that my e-mail account would be automatically erased because 1) it was oversized, and 2) there wasn't any activity. we could argue about the size, but there was definitely activity, as this was my primary e-mail account that i check routinely throughout the day, 24/7, on various devices. my next course of action was to open a ticket so one of the sysadmin could take a look at it. i also tried using the live chat function but the wait time was 10 users deep so i just went with the ticket.
i tried one of the tea eggs this morning, after i left them to soak overnight. it was a brown egg, and i had a hard time peeling it. i bought the brown ones on monday, and in my experience older eggs make better tea eggs because they're easier to peel. the eggs need more soaking because the flavor hasn't fully penetrated inside the egg. at this point it was just like eating a salty hard-boiled egg.
i started my baseboard gap filling project by first moving all the furniture away from the eastern kitchen wall. one unintended benefit was it allowed me to throw out some stuff and reorganize some things on the shelves and drawers. that was followed by cleaning, as that area was particularly dusty and filled with cobwebs. i then inspected the gap, figuring out what size of foam cord i'd need to fill it. at the widest it's 5/16".
i left for the somerville home depot by 2pm via fuji bicycle. i can't remember the last time i biked here, it's been ages. i don't think i biked here at all last year (2016), especially after i discovered ac moore was going out of business. that was my main reason for coming here, to buy yarn for my mother. i went by the old building out of curiosity, and just to confirm it indeed was gone. the parking area in front was completely empty. there was no signs on the door informing people what will be taking over the store.
at home depot i was in the paint aisle trying to figure out which kind of caulk to get. i'd decided earlier that i wanted clear caulk, so that it'd disappear once dried. there was clear silicone caulk, but that's a pain to work with (too sticky, too noxious, too damaging to the fingers) and i didn't need that strength level (i.e. waterproof). there was also clear dynaflex 230, which is advertised as a "silicone tough" latex but once again, it seemed excessive for my needs. so i finally went with the basic all-purpose acrylic latex caulk plus silicone ($2.48). it took a while to find where the foam cord was, hidden in a small section where all the weather insulation/sealing materials were. it's called caulk saver but what that's just a fancy name for foam cord. the idea is to stick the foam inside the gap as an initial layer of insulation before sealing it up with caulk. having the foam also gives the caulk a backing to adhere to. i bought the smallest diameter size they carried (3/8") as the gap in my kitchen wasn't very large, it comes in a length of 20 ft. ($2.98). afterwards i took a peek at the garden seeds, just to get an idea of what's available. i always go with store-bought seeds, i should really try some online places for a little variety.
after home depot i crossed the expanse of parking lot over to k-mart, where i wanted to pick up some fabric softener sheets (bounce fresh linen scent, 120 ct. $5.99). i also browsed the kitchenware aisles and home furnishings and saw a futon couch that looked remarkably similar to the one my 2nd aunt ordered (which will arrive on sunday i believe).
there's been so much development in the assembly square area. i remember when it was just an empty lot, where i even saw wild rabbits. now there are factory outlet stores, a partners healthcare administration building, a multi-story parking garage, and a subway station. a part of me still regret what could have been, had ikea - the original tenant for this area - decided not to pull out.
i began working as soon as i got home. filling the baseboard gap with the foam cord was pretty fun. i used the end of a spoon or a screwdriver to push the cord into some of the tighter spacing. sometimes the foam would snap like bubble wrap. in the middle of the wall the gap disappears so i didn't put any foam there.
the foam cord seemed to fit the gap so well that i wonder if i even needed bothering to caulk it. so i took my temperature gun and did some readings. it was still cold in the areas immediately surrounding the gap. that meant i'd still need to finish it off with some caulk.
that the caulk would turn clear once it dried made it more forgiving to work with. to smooth out the caulk i used my finger, then later tried a wet paper towel, until finally settling on a wet finger. acrylic latex caulk can be irritating on the skin (though not as bad as pure silicone) so i wiped the caulk from my finger as soon as possible. after i finished caulking the eastern wall, i also caulked the southern wall while i was at it. there was hardly any gap so i didn't need to use the foam cord, just went straight to caulking. by that point i was getting the hang of it and the caulking was near perfect, almost didn't even need to smooth it out.
after i finished, the house did feel warmer, although it could've been all in my imagination. hours later, after the caulk had a chance to dry out a little bit, i went back to the kitchen with the infrared temperature gun to see if there was any improvement. according to the readings, my fix made no difference, the temperature gradient was the same as when i measured it a few nights ago. that area of the house is the farthest away from any forced hot air ducts, so by its very nature it's the coldest. also it's next to an old glass french door, which is not very insulating. the wooden floorboards themselves in that area are a few degrees colder. but in my mind the house still feels warmer despite what the evidence shows. if nothing else, filling the baseboard gap will eliminate the occasional draft i feel in the kitchen when i walk around barefoot.
in the late afternoon i contacted my webhost again, this time successfully getting someone on live chat. then for the next 2 hours i sat by my computer, staring at the chat window, waiting for the occasional responses from my technical supporter person. this went on for so long, i think at one point he forgot i was still there and said good bye, but i caught him before he did, asking him if the problem was fixed or not. in the end he told me to open a trouble ticket addressing this problem, as the issue was beyond his scope of expertise.
for dinner it was more leftover beef stew pasta. tonight i added a dollop of my homemade habanero hot sauce. that instantly kicked everything to the next level, with an intense scalp-sweating spiciness. i also tried another tea egg, this time a white one. they're older, so they're easier to peel. this one seemed a little better, more flavor absorption, but could also steep for a few more days for a more intense flavor.
i woke up early this morning. i actually got up to use the bathroom, but then couldn't go back to sleep, so i got out of bed at 7am. being out of work for so long got me a little stressed and i went online briefly to look at some job sites. 5 hours later i had lunch, just a cup of chobani greek yogurt (blueberry).
i'd plans of doing some home maintenance work (going to home depot to get some clear caulk) but what i didn't anticipate was the rainy weather we'd be having today, an all day freezing rain event. that meant i wasn't going anywhere today but staying put at home. the patriots gave a pre-AFC championship game news conference, that was broadcasted as breaking news by the local channels.
maybe there's something about january winters that makes me yearn for tea eggs. i made tea eggs almost a year ago exactly. i was inspired to make them because i found an old box of tea egg spices in my cupboard. it box wasn't dated, but judging by where i found it, i wouldn't be surprised if it was more than a decade old. never being one to throw anything perishable away if i think it's still good, i decided to use it. i bought 18 brown eggs from market basket yesterday, and added 2 more from the eggs already in my fridge to make 20 - just enough for all of them to sit at the bottom of my largest pot.
20 brown eggs (or white)
tea egg flavor packets
4 black tea teabags
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp salt
handful of sichuan peppercorns
i followed the exact same steps from last time: boil the eggs in cold on high heat with a tsp of salt. the water came to a boil much faster this time around (maybe because i had less water), and after a few minutes of boiling, i took the eggs out so i could run them under cold water in the sink and crack them with the back of a spoon, all the while i turned the pot of boiling water down to medium-low heat and added the flavor packets. the box came with one packet of tea, one packet of spices (clove, anise, cinnamon), and a small packet of salt and pepper for dipping.
after the eggs were cracked, i added them back to the pot, along with 4 additional black tea teabags (for extra tea flavor), a handful of old sichuan peppercorns, and 3 tbsp of salt. the amount of salt is a contentious subject: on the box it said only to add 1 tsp, while i added 1 tsp + 3 tbsp. also i did the math wrong, and if i used 4 tbsp for 30 eggs last time, i should only be using 2.7 tbsp this time.
after simmering the eggs for an hour, i turned off the stove and let them steep for 24 hours. i noticed there was an oily film on top of the liquid. this could be a byproduct of using old spices. i don't believe it affects the flavor but i won't know until i try one of the eggs tomorrow.
i finished watching the entire first season of the young pope (10 episodes). even after finishing, i still can't tell you what it's about. apparently the pope is legitimate after all, perhaps even an actual saint, with several feats of miracle. the show is so strange and beautiful, with interesting characters, i keep on watching even though i have no idea what's going on.
for dinner i heated up some leftover beef stew combined with some rotini pasta. later in the evening my upstairs neighbors were blasting their music/tv sound again. i passive-aggressively found a long loop of annoying high-pitch sounds on youtube and played it from a speaker attached to my phone on full blast from a torchiere lamp. i then went around the house cleaning with wearing earplugs, fantasizing about calling steve and paul downstairs so they can hear the noise for themselves. the annoyance is typically brief, anywhere from 1-3 hours, but it was never like this before, and i get the feeling they don't really know how loud it is.
after a lunch of sauerkraut chicken sausage and scrambled eggs, i biked down to market basket to get some ingredients for making beef stew. the place was surprisingly empty, considering that we have a major storm heading our way later tonight. although it will be snow and ice and many places, the areas along the coastline including boston will just receive rain.
1 can beef broth
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup of flour
salt/pepper to taste
there's nothing particularly hard about beef stew, just gather the ingredients and throw them into the crockpot. i wanted to get some roasting beef, but there was a sale on sirloin ($2.99/lbs.) so that was actually cheaper, therefore i got that instead. i chopped the beef into cubes, sprinkled salt and ground pepper over them, and tried to sear them before adding to the crockpot. apparently my frying pan wasn't hot enough because i mostly browned them, and only really seared the final batch. my house did smell like a savory barbecue joint afterwards.
i was also prepared to make a heavy cassava cake (with the 3 lbs. yuca i bought from haymarket many weeks ago), but i wasn't happy with the coconut milk selection at market basket, so i will hold until i can get better coconut milk.
my father dropped by in the afternoon to pick up my 4 jars of kimchi. i slow-cooked the stew from 2pm to 8pm. around 7pm i mixed some flour with half a cup of broth to make a thickening gravy that i added to the stew. i also cooked up a cup of rotini.
the final stew was okay, but nothing spectacular. maybe i didn't add enough salt, but i try not to add too much when i cook for myself. the beef on top of the stew were a little dry and chewy, but the beef submerged in the broth were very tender. i got russet potatoes but they didn't really break down in the slow cooker. maybe next time i have to boil them first separately before adding to the stew. if nothing else, it was a very hearty meal, with chunks of beef, potatoes, and pasta.
while standing in the kitchen i discovered a major source of draft inside my house: the gap below the baseboards on the eastern side of the kitchen. i measured it with m temperature gun, in the worst areas there's as much as a 10° difference. tomorrow's project will be to get some clear caulk and fill in the gaps.
i went to the cafe in the mid-afternoon to do more winterization stuff on my motorcycle in the tool shed. only my father was there, my mother having left with her friend nancy and my sister's godmother on a walk to fresh pond plaza and back. the 3 things i needed to do for the bike was 1) oil the chain, 2) run the engine to use up the gasoline left in the carburetor, and 3) remove the battery (so it can be maintenance-charged indoors). temperature was in the lower 40's today so it wasn't that cold, but holding the metal can of spray grease froze my fingers after a while, and my nose was running the whole time. after i finished i reassembled everything and put the cover on. with the way the weather's been so warm this winter, there's a good chance i could have the motorcycle back out on the road by march.
back at the cafe, i installed a memory card into the webcam, so it can record video on a schedule. little use of a security camera if it can't record. the 64GB microSDXC card arrived yesterday. i formatted it to FAT32 so the foscam camera can read it. it used to have a memory card but i took it for some other use. i found an unused fido jar in the cafe basement, took it back with me so i can make sichuan paocai with it. i helped my father fill out some medical assistance form for my grand uncle. this way the city pays us to take care of him. finally, before i left, i ordered online 2x 6" sweet onion chicken teriyaki sub from subway. monday is chicken teriyaki day, so each is only $3.50. i went to go pick it up from the somerville avenue store before returning home.
by that point it was already 4pm and i was eating something for the first time today. i ate half (6"), saving the rest for later. it was pretty good, not bad for just $3.50. of course i still remember the days of the $5 foot-long. now their cheapest foot-long sub is their $6 steak and cheese special (maybe i'll get that for tomorrow).
temperature plays a strong part in fermentation. whenever the heat in my house goes from 60°F to 70°F, both my curtido and sauerkraut go crazy. when i woke up this morning, cabbage juice had leaked into my curtido airlock. the bell in the sauerkraut airlock was floating to the top, when typically there's no activity in sauerkraut jar. i repeatedly tapped the curtido jar on the tabletop to get the air to escape upwards and for the liquid level to go back down. in the evening when i turned up my heat again, both the curtido and sauerkraut were fermenting again. this time liquid had actually spilled out of the curtido jar. i'm really tempted to just open the jar and put all the solids back down, but i don't want to risk contamination. the fermentation will slow down eventually after the first few days of heavy activity. i just don't want any of the liquids to leak out. maybe if i had more head clearance, say if i fermented in a large fido jar (apparently they off-gas despite the rubber gasket seal).
later in the evening i finished off that second chicken teriyaki sub. i discovered last night that the young pope had already been broadcasted in europe. this meant all the episodes were already available online, so i went ahead and grabbed all 10 episodes. one thing i began to notice while watching the show was the parallel between the young pope and our soon-to-be-president donald trump, both men seemingly unqualified for the job at hand, both mercurial narcissists.
i am concerned about the rising brine level in my 2 quart curtido jar. i thought i had plenty of head room, but overnight, the cabbage juice has come up to the neck of the jar. there's about another centimeter of space before it hits the airlock spout. all this liquid is a good thing because i was worried that there wasn't enough fluid coverage and that my cabbage leaf block would eventually get moldy. but now it seems i have too much. i wonder if i should open the jar and press the solids back down, maybe letting some of that trapped carbon dioxide escape. but as a rule, never open the fermenting jar, especially in the first few days, and it's only day 2.
as my trek utility bike is currently in the shop (my kitchen) awaiting final repairs, i rode my fast fuji to belmont. temperature was in the upper 30's, with the usual dearth of sunday traffic. my mother fried up some peking ravioli for lunch. i brought a small pint jar of kimchi for my mother to try. she thought it was pretty good, not too salty, not too sour. "i could eat the whole jar in one sitting," she said. if there was anything i could improve, maybe there was too much ginger, add more garlic next time, and process them even more into a paste.
i was in the backyard refilling the globe seed feeder and attaching the hard faucet cover i bought yesterday from the everett home depot.
i'm disappointed to report that the 2nd stepper motor i bought to fix the broken foscam web camera did not work either. it looks similar, but still different. for one thing, the connectors still don't match. the wire bundles are also slightly shorter in the new motor (i don't think it'd matter though). and finally, the spinning axle is longer on the new motor. at this point i've pretty much given up on trying to fix the foscam. it still works, but as a stationary web cam, since it can't pan left-right (but can still tilt up-down). maybe one day i might come across a free broken foscam and scrounge out the stepper motor for replacement part. i ended up reassembling the camera so at the very least it can be used.
i screened two episode of emerald city for my mother, with english and traditional chinese subtitles. i also replayed the first episode of taboo now that i have chinese subtitles for that episode as well.
the whole day was waiting for the start of the packers-cowboys game at 4:30pm. as my father came home early, we had an early dinner as well. i left at the start of the 2nd half, figuring green bay was going to win the game since they were so dominant. when i got home the packers were up by 2 touchdowns. the game got exciting in the final minutes however, when dallas came back to tie the game. the two teams traded field goal kicks until green bay made the last kick to win the game, 34-31.
the packers-cowboys game was followed immediately by the steelers-chiefs game. that turn out to be a close game as well, as the two teams battled. i don't think pittsburgh even had a touchdown the entire game. steelers won, 18-16, to face the patriots next sunday.
the brine level in the curtido jar continued to rise, now above the neck. there's about half a centimeter of space before it reached the spout now. i tried shaking the jar in the hopes of dislodging any trapped gases, maybe it helped a little, but overflow may be imminent. that's why this morning i already put the jar in a dish just in case. before i went to bed, the brine level was even higher, almost touching the spout by now. i managed to lower the level a bit but tapping the bottom of the jar to force the bubbles to escape to the surface.
i watched the HBO premiere of the young pope from bed before going to sleep. i don't know if the series is any good, but it's definitely mesmerising in its beauty and performance.
i didn't have anything planned for today, so i was looking forward to a deep sleep. but my mother called this morning, asked me if i wanted to go to dim sum. actually, my sister wanted to go, and my mother asked if i wanted to come along. i suggested dim sum in malden, which was where we originally wanted to go the last time we went but decided on chinatown. malden had the added avantage of being next to the everett michael's at the gateway center, where my mother wanted to go afterwards to look for yarn. she said my sister was ready to go immediately, but said they could swing by around 11am. i said 10:30am since i didn't need that much time to get ready, plus getting to the dim sum earlier would avoid the weekend crowd.
so much for early: my sister didn't arrive until 10:45am. the dim sum place we were going was ming's seafood restaurant, not the first place you'd think of for weekend dim sum. we at malden center arrived at 11:08am. it was still early enough that there were plenty of 1-hour curbside parking (later we spotted a municipal parking lot as well). it was already crowded by the time we arrived at ming's, with more people milling about in the waiting area. the attendant handing out numbers asked us if we wanted to share a table but we decided to wait for our own table. the wait wasn't very long, less than 10 minutes. my sister left briefly to move her car (she was nervous that it wasn't parked close enough to the curb) while my mother and i got seated at a table in an alcove area next to the kitchen.
right from the start it seemed like my sister was going to order everything see saw. that made me a little bit annoyed, because 1) she could learn to eat a bit less, 2) my sister wasn't going to any of it, and 3) it was impossible for her to finish it all. when i made a comment about it, she sniped back, saying why can't she enjoy dim sum in peace. i didn't eat for the first 15 minutes, waiting for my cart to arrive, the one that had chicken feet and tripe, which are my favorite dim sum dishes. i sipped my hot chrysanthemum tea and people watched. the place was almost entirely chinese, a mix of true cantonese and mainland china. the few non-chinese faces i saw were in chinese groups. malden dim sum is a little off the radar and probably not as accessible or famous as chinatown, but judging from the crowd-size, business was still very good. we probably arrived right before the noontime crowd, as i watched the waiting area swell with people waiting for available tables.
the first thing i tried was the chashaobao (cantonese cha siu bao ňĆëšâžňîů). it was okay, but i thought the bun itself was a little dry, and the pork filling didn't have that characteristic red coloring. as for the chicken feet, the skin and cartilage wasn't as falling-off-the-bone as the ones in chinatown. and the tripe smelled a little bleachy, weren't as tender or flavor as chinatown dim sum tripe. the dou hua tang was not as sweet, and had a noticeable sourness to it. the xiao long bao was very small, with the filling being too big to be bit-size.
the few good things i can say about ming's is it's more convenient if you live around the area, easier (and cheaper) to find parking in malden center versus boston. the ambience is much better here, cleaner brighter classier, not as dingy as those chinatown dim sum places. also doesn't stink like it does in chinatown, where your clothes are saturated with oil smells that you need to launder when you get home. the chrysanthemum tea was very good, it seems like they had a whole cup of flowers in the teapot. all and all, it was okay dim sum, not the best, but passable. there are also a few other dim sum places in malden, maybe we could try those if we ever return here for dim sum.
from malden center we headed to the gateway center. just like at the cambridge store, the everett michael's didn't carry any fishermen's wool yarn either. my mother but some other yarns instead (i printed out some 60% off coupons). my sister - who has to buy something anytime she's in a store - got some valentine decorations. while my sister pulled up to the nearby home depot, my mother and i went next door to bath & body works, where they were having a clearance sale on holiday-scented products. afterwards i walked down to home depot while my mother went to old navy. i got a hard faucet cover ($2.99) for the outdoor faucet in my parents' backyard.
i finally returned home by 2:30pm. as this was NFL conference semifinals weekend, i eagerly awaited the 2 games that were in store for today: seahawks-falcons then texans-patriots. i only half-heartedly watched the seattle-atlanta game, but i was rooting against the seahawks. i've never really watched the falcons before, and they're a pretty good team. the final score was 36-20, atlanta spanked seattle, the look on russell wilson's face looked like he was shellshocked from a war battle.
the houston-new england game later in the evening was the main event. i cooked up some french bread pizza and watched the game. for a team so heavily favored, the patriots did not play well in the first half. new england got a quick pair of touchdowns in the first quarter, but didn't score again a field goal close to the end of the half. meanwhile the texans came back and got within 1-point of tying the patriots at 14-13. brady was intercepted twice (although osweiler was intercepted 3 times). pats won in the end, 34-16, but the texans put up a fight, and gave new england a scare, and it wasn't until late in the game that the fans felt safe enough to finally exhale.
2.5 tbsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp dried oregano
8 thai chili peppers, chopped
curtido is made very much in sauerkraut, with the additional ingredients of chopped onions, garlic, hot peppers and shredded carrots. authentic curtido calls for jalape├▒o peppers but i substituted with thai chili peppers which i had a lot frozen in my freezer. i'm curious how the carrots will affect the fermentation and flavor, as carrots have a lot of sugar. curtido also calls for oregano, a spice i hardly use even though i have it in my kitchen, simply because a lot of italian recipes use it. oregano gave the curtido a distinctive flavor, we'll see how it tastes once it finishes fermenting. in fact, curtido can be eaten without fermentation, and what little i tried tasted pretty good, but it'll be even better after a proper ferment.
making curtido gave me a chance to break in the new 2 quart mason jar i got yesterday. i figured i'd have a lot of empty space, but even after tightly packing in everything, there was only about 2 inches of head space.
i packed the curtido at 4pm, and by 9pm the airlock was already filled with carbon dioxide. the airlock on the sauerkraut jar, not so much, although i have seen it rise it fall in the past few days. there is still fermentation going on inside the sauerkraut jar (it's only day 10, i'm only halfway through my 3 week ferment for this 3rd jar).
it's day 3 of my kimchi ferment, and like clockwork, they're ready to go in the refrigerator. the whole time i was making curtido in my kitchen, i'd occasionally hear these soft hissing sounds coming from the kimchi jars. i burped them slowly, revealing a densely packed container of bubbling kimchi. they were so full i had to remove a little bit from each jar and put it in a smaller pint jar just to keep them from leaking anymore.
next i moved on to my trek utility bike repair. my original plan was to replace all the cables, but only the rear brake cable needs replacing, so i decided to only do that one. the cable cutter makes cutting the brake cables so easy. supposedly they can also cut the housing, but it has a tendency to totally mash the cut every time, so i don't think they're any good for that purpose. what i need is a dremel tool to smooth off the ends of the cable housing, but i will have to make do for the time being with rough cuts.
january of 2016 i had my snowy bike accident, which damaged the right brake lever, the one that controls the rear brake. i thought it was just superficial scratches, but apparently the crash also bent the adjustment screw and actually damaged the screw in such a way that i couldn't use it anymore and the cable couldn't be removed without cutting. fortunately i didn't throw away the old brake levers, and the adjustment screws on that are compatible with the brake lever.
around 4:30pm i got a call from my father asking me what i was doing. he said he was at market basket, and forgot his wallet. so i got on my fuji bike and raced down there to assist with my credit card. this happens a few times a year. one time he even managed to leave his wallet at the checkout counter, fortunately the cashier spotted it and left it with lost and found.
i finished up the bike when i returned home. i didn't tighten the brake cable just yet, because i want to replace the brake pads and do it outside because it can get a little dirty. but everything is in place, i just need to wheel the bike back outside and do it within the next few days.
for lunch i had some homemade sauerkraut with chicken sausage and scrambled eggs. for dinner, i heated up a frozen brick of stouffer's lasagna. i watched the 3rd episode of emerald city, it's starting to grow on me.
i was shipping out alex's hakshop purchase (elite field kit and radio starter). everything is so much easier with a food scale, i know the exact weight of the box, no more having to use the bathroom scale (which would probably work, but i typically add an ounce or two to account for accuracy discrepancy). i haven't shipped an international package in a while, so maybe the rules have changed, or maybe it's because i'm shipping it to japan, which have different packaging regulations. for one thing, i didn't have to print out additional custom forms like i typically would. also, there wasn't the option to treat package as abandoned, or an option to add insurance (i'm assuming it's already added).
when i left my house in the late morning to the porter square post office, it was already 60°F, our second day of unseasonably warm weather, before the temperature drops down to the 30's and 40's. it was warm enough that my sister took hailey to the beach. when i got to the post office, the line was 5 people deep, but there were 2 clerks, so the wait wasn't too bad, 15 minutes at most. "i've got some bad news," the clerk told me when it was my turn at the counter. apparently the post office won't take packages in UPS boxes. i don't know why, anti-competition clause, or maybe it confuses the carriers, but in order for the package to ship, i had to cover up all UPS markings. i asked if they had spare masking tape, but the clerk said with the amount i needed, they'd have to sell the tape to me.
so i left. good thing i had business at michael's, my mother asked me to buy a skein of fishermen's wool (in brown). but while i was there, i also took the time to look for cheap masking/packaging tape. i figured if i had some tape, i could repackage the box and wouldn't have to go all the way home again. they had some, but they were more for crafts purposes, so they weren't cheap. as for the yarn, i couldn't find any fishermen's wool. maybe lion brand doesn't make it anymore, or maybe this smaller store just doesn't have it in stock. before i left though, i went to check out their mason jars, and bought a jar i've been long searching for, a large 2 quart (half gallon) mason jar with a wide mouth ($5 but $3 after 40% coupon). i went to ace hardware next door looking for packaging tape; they had masking tape but for the price it wasn't worth it. i decided to go home.
as it was already noontime, i had some lunch first before continuing my errands. i made a bowl of chicken sausage oatmeal combined with a kale-banana-almond-milk smoothie. i repackaged the box, not completely mummifying it with packaging tape but close. i was a little worried it'd throw off the weight but i'd already added an ounce for safety to the shipping label when i created it.
there was no line when i went to the post office a second time around 1:30pm. i dropped off the package and got a receipt, mission accomplished. for my troubles, now all i have left to do is wait for alex to reimburse me the cost of the package and shipping, which comes out close to $400. this, despite his reluctance to use the 21st century method of money exchange through paypal, and would rather go with western union, which has very expensive fees.
i biked to market basket next, to pick up some box tissues for my grand uncle, and also get some ingredients for making my next fermented vegetable recipe, el salvadorian curtido. it was surprisingly crowded for some reason, or maybe i got there right when there was some shopper congestion. a little old lady in front of me was unnecessarily rude to the cashier, speaking down to her as if she didn't understand english. i've found the rudest people at market basket to be little italian ladies.
after returning home briefly, i went to the cafe to drop off the kleenex. by then the temperature was 61°F, warm enough that wore just my t-shirt. i don't think i'd ever imagine i could be biking in a t-shirt in the middle of january. it was getting close to 2:30pm and neither my father or 2nd aunt were at the cafe yet. we were most concerned about my father, who went to go retake the servsafe food safety manager training course and certification exam. the last time around he got out early, so we thought maybe his lateness meant he might've failed the exam a second time. but my mother saw e-mails alerting us that his exam score was available for viewing. while i was trying to log into my father account, he finally returned, smiling, which could either mean good or bad news. he said he passed, but just barely, scoring 76% when passing is 75%. he ended up taking an electronic version of the ipad (administered on ipads), and a bilingual chinese/english version at that (hence he was able to get his exam score immediately afterwards). he said there were about 11 other in class today, mostly hispanic.
i continued on my way to belmont. the house felt improved some how, now that the basement oil furnace was no longer making strange noises. for dinner we had xuelihong noodles. i helped my father order some smoke detectors/carbon monoxide detectors/solar motion security lights before returning home.
a package was waiting for my upstairs neighbors. i was going to tell them about it but then i heard the music blaring from upstairs and decided against it. it was annoying enough that i pounded the walls to get them to stop, i don't know if they heard it. it didn't stop until 10:40pm. i hope maybe they go away this weekend (MLK jr. weekend).
a strange thing happened to my mason jar fermentation: it suddenly started leaking again. i cleaned off some crusty dried juice 2 days ago, so i was surprised to see fresh juice on the cap again. here's what i think happened. for the first few days, Leuconostoc bacterias fermented the cabbage, producing carbon dioxide and lactic acid. once conditions became too acidic, they died off, replaced by Lactobacillus bacterias. it took a few days for them to build up, but once they did, they continued on with the fermentation, creating more lactic acid and carbon dioxide. it's during this second ferment that probably caused the airlock to leak again. eventually conditions will be too acidic for even the Lactobacillus, and that's when the sauerkraut will be ready to eat.
i arrived in belmont sometime before noon to await the oil heater repairman. when i left my house, donald trump's press conference was just starting. there was a report today that russians had incriminating information on trump and were using it to blackmail him. the question and answer portion became a farce, trump's distinctive logorrhea nearly causing my brain to reboot. i didn't have lunch yet, but there was enough snacks around the house (nuts, potato chips, seltzer) to keep me entertained.
the fawcett repairman arrived at 1pm. he was supposed to call but didn't, and i only knew he'd arrived because i saw the van parked outside. a burly guy came in by the name of rich, smelled faintly of heating oil, had sawdust on his sweatshirt like maybe he'd been crawling around somewhere. i showed him into the basement, but i noticed he was making notes of what type of heating system we used. when he saw the hot water heater, he asked me if i was looking to replace it, which i thought was a weird question. finally it made sense: rich thought he was here to spec out a replacement heating system, nobody told him he was just here to fix the oil furnace. one we got that cleared up, he went back to his truck to get his tool bag. earlier i played him the sound of the furnace cycling, and he knew right away it was a faulty primary control box.
he came in with a fancy electronic version with a digital readout (honeywell R7284) to replace the old analog (coincidentally also honeywell). he detached the old box by unscrewing it and cutting some wires, then started reattaching some new wires. besides the new primary control, he also replaced the cad cell flame sensor. while chatting with rich, i learned he'd been working for fawcett for 30 years now. it took him all but 15 minutes and he had everything fixed. i asked him how much it'd cost, he said since my parents are under a protection plan, it's only $70 for parts and labor, "not a bad deal, considering the control box costs something like $200," he added.
my father was busy studying for the servsafe manager certification exam he's retaking tomorrow. the $55 cost to get retested also includes retaking the class if you want to. he studied by taking an online practice test, but i'm afraid he focused too much on those practice questions, which are guaranteed not to be on the actual exam.
the inside of my house smells like kimchi AKA the smell of an authentic korean restaurant. i went into the kitchen and saw that my kimchi jars were already leaking. that's a good sign, means they're fermenting. there's so much flavor that you could eat the kimchi now, but wait a few more days to let it properly ferment and the flavor will be that much more complex, a fizzy sourness on top of the umami salty sweet and spicy. i rinsed the lasagna dishes and washed the jars before putting them back on the kitchen countertop again.
after a shower, i spent the evening watching the first episode of taboo, the new tom hardy miniseries on FX. i like it, seems like a sumptuous tale of revenge, with a host of haughty english scoundrels whom i can't wait to see them get their comeuppance.