i woke up at 8:30am to get ready for the 14th annual cambridge bow tie ride starting from the library at 9:30am. it's called the bow tie ride because cambridge is shaped like a bow tie. because it's officially sponsored by the city, it's one of the few bike rides that get a police escort, so we ride on the streets.
while using the bathroom, i realized the ride begins at 9am and leaves at 9:30am. it pays to get there a little early to get some freebies, like water bottles, bike lights, and snacks. when i stepped outside my house, i saw joel waiting for renee. turns out they were going on the ride as well, so it'll be nice to at least know a few people. i went back inside the house to brush my teeth before getting my trek allant bike from the basement. i finally left by 9:15am, getting to the library in just 5 minutes.
it was a good turn out today, i overheard someone say 150 cyclists, but it felt like a lot more. most people wore helmets, but i purposely left mine at home, figuring we'd be riding so slow with police escorts, there would be no risk of head injuries. we started heading out at 9:30am, but with so many bikers, it took us several minutes before we were all riding.
the ride itself was sort of boring. most of the time i was just staring at the backs of the cyclists in front of me. more interesting was watching the stunned faces of onlookers as they see a convoy of bicycles riding down the street. we went down cambridge street from inman square to cambridge crossing, then through kendall square back to the library, where we continued to danehy park where we stopped. a ride can never be just for the sake of riding, there always has to be some kind of educational component, so at the park someone gave a short talk about the history of danehy park, and how that area of cambridge also used to have a lot of brick works because of heavy clay deposit due to the glaciers.
from the park we started heading back to the library via huron village, harvard square, and memorial drive. we passed within 2 blocks of the cafe, i was tempted to detour to put the tea eggs in the fridge, but ended up not doing that (in hindsight, i should've done it). i followed the convoy back to the library. i was ready to ride home, but realized they were serving sandwiches afterwards, so i stayed for a small roast beef sandwich before finally heading home, getting back by 11:45am.
i packed up my things and took the motorcycle to belmont. i stopped by the cafe briefly to put away the tea eggs into the fridge, and the leftover rice into the freezer.
my parents had just returned from a walk to fresh pond and back, collecting a few more errant golf balls from the golf course. my mother also collected a few berries that she said were hawthorn fruits but they're just large crab apples. they also spotted some chicken wire some neighbors had thrown out so my father and i took the car to retrieve them. these were high quality green vinyl coated chicken wires, if i had to guess 2x25ft in length. they were thrown out as-is, so when we got them back, we flattened them out onto the sidewalk and rolled them back up for future projects.
i went out to the backyard to install the new 4-way garden hose manifold we bought off of temu ($12.57). i placed it on the storage rain barrel closest to the basement dryer vent window, replacing two dual-head garden hose splitters (one plastic, one brass) that we can use elsewhere. it also gave me a chance to re-inspect the rain barrels. i closed a few connectors so i could narrow down where the leak might be. however, all the rain barrels were filled to capacity. i ended up reconnecting all the barrels. i'll check again tomorrow to see the rain water level. maybe the water level last weekend was actually due to not enough rain even though it seemed like it rained all weekend long, and nothing was leaking besides our initial discovery that it was leaking from the water gauge.
my father took down the last of the squash vines, this one growing in the western bed. it had one medium-sized buttercup squash and one small-sized. my parents have either eaten or given away all the other squashes we've harvested so far. squash vines take up so much space to produce so few squashes. plus they require a lot of care, from training the vines, to tying supports for the squashes, not to mention pest prevention from the cucumber beetles, squash vine borers, and this year a heavy squash bug infestation. at least with beans and bitter melons, they don't really get any pests or diseases.
i saw some mustard seedlings in RB0, though still no cilantro yet. i need to plant some more seeds in the other beds, so we can get a fall harvest of cool weather leafy greens. none of our hardy chrysanthemums have bloomed yet, though there are many flower buds.
i went outside to do some drone flying, haven't done that since august. they thing i really wanted to check out was the grove street playground renovations. seems like they'd already renovated it a few years ago, but what's a boondoggle if they can't feeding money in its construction indefinitely? this most recent renovation is to the baseball fields and the basketball court. a few weeks ago they'd completely fenced off the playground, with no sign to say what they were doing. i had to go online and search for information. this latest project will cost the town of belmont close to $1 million. i feel like that money can be spent elsewhere, like repairing roads and planting trees, more useful endeavors.
anyway, i flew the drone above the fenced off field, recently stripped off all the sod. i was trying to fly the drone as low as possible since there was no danger of hitting anyone. the one risk was crashing the drone, and as i got within 80ft off the ground, i noticed i was starting to lose reception, so i didn't dare going any lower than that. i then took a tour of the fresh pond golf course, the belmont farm, some mansions with pools, before flying back home.
i left soon after that. my parents were going to my godmother's place for dinner. i wasn't invited because she doesn't have enough space in her apartment for so many people (her friend and my 2nd aunt were also going to be there). so instead i went back to cambridge around 3pm.
after getting home, i walked down to the community garden to do some pruning. anne marie sent me an e-mail this past week saying that some of my plants were growing a bit out of control, like the garlic chives and the goldenrods. she also told me next year i can't grow my hyacinth beans so high, as apparently there's a 6ft height limit in the garden. tell that to the gardeners growing dahlias right next to my plot, which are easily 7ft high. i borrowed a pair of hedge clippers from the tool shed and cut off all the spent garlic chive flowers. i also trimmed some of the goldenrods so they were falling onto the pathway. for my troubles i received at least two mosquito bites on my arms, though i did manage to kill one of the mosquitoes will it was still feeding. i noticed my monkshood still haven't flowered yet, though there are a handful of flower buds.
i chatted with neal before i left for the garden, about rugby, of which he's a big fan of. apparently right now is the rugby world cup. usual rugby powerhouse of australia hasn't been doing so well. he also told me there's a new england team called the free jacks (i think i've seen them marching in the pride parade), who have a stadium in quincy. coming back from the garden, bumped into my former upstairs neighbor david. he surprised me with some breaking news: the celtics have traded for jrue holiday from the blazer, in exchange for malcolm brogdon and robert williams. not since the the porzingis for smart trade back in late june have i been so shocked. so many players are gone now: marcus smart, danilo gallinari (who never played a single game with the team due to injuries), mike muscala, grant williams, malcolm brogdon, and robert williams. the marcus trade still stings though. even if the celtics do win it all this year, it'd be bittersweet without the heart and soul of the team.
i came home just in time to watch the patriots-cowboys game. it was a humiliating loss, 38-3, belichick's biggest coaching loss. i didn't even watch the second half, after the score was already 28-3. i didn't realize those 3 points would be the only offensive. i'm going to be staying away from any patriots football news until next sunday. let's not kid ourselves: a team with a 1-3 start isn't going to see the playoffs. our only victory was against the jets, and we barely won at that. at least we have the celtics, the only ray of championship hope for boston sports teams.
after a shower i made dinner, luxury korean ramen with my leftover fermented tofu. i timed it so my noodles would be ready just in time for sunday night football between the chiefs and the jets. i was expecting to see new york get completely crushed by the defending super bowl champions. at first it looked that way, but to everyone's surprise, they jets crawled back to tie. zach wilson seemed to be channeling the spirit of aaron rodgers, who was watching the game from the guest box. who else was watching? taylor swift, in her second weekend appearance. i still think she and travis kelce are just friends. speaking of which, how many product endorsements does kelce have anyway? seems like every single commercial has him in it. unfortunately once wilson tied the game, he seemed to regress back to his old bad self, and the jets didn't score after that, despite a few missed opportunities. to their defense's credit though, they held the chiefs scoreless as well, but a 3-point field goal was all it took for kansas city to win, 23-20. zach wilson showed promise, and new york was this close to beating another titan (after they defeated the bills on opening night).
it wasn't raining this morning so i opted to take the motorcycle to the cafe. in fact, it wouldn't be raining at all today, despite intense rain clouds to our south, the same system that flooded new york city yesterday.
my father was cleaning the deep fryer when i got there. i helped him pour the leftover fry oil back into the container. i brought the oui yogurt jar lids i ordered off of temu, they fit nicely, and don't even leak so they're totally waterproof. i also replaced the rubber feet on the food scale, before discovering there was already a package of replacement feet at the cafe.
my 2nd aunt went to 99 ranch supermarket in quincy again yesterday. she bought some egg rolls along with some stinky tofu. my mother pan-fried the stinky tofu with some regular tofu. the stink was so overwhelming, i was afraid it would drive out the customers, who had no idea what was happening in the back kitchen. i combined the tofu with some taiwanese paocai and hot sauce, into something that was very close to an authentic taiwanese stinky tofu experience.
it was busy today, which was good, as it was the last day of september, good to end the month on a high. the two most popular items were either bento or beef noodle soup.
we left the cafe around 4:30pm. i put my backpack in the car so i wouldn't have to carry it while riding the motorcycle. when i got to belmont i didn't even bother going in the backyard to check the rain barrels, i'll do that tomorrow. my parents told me the replacement maytag fridge part arrived on wednesday but it was for something completely random. however, yesterday another part arrived, and that was the correct piece, the plug for the fridge grill.
i helped my father crimp a female cigarette light adapter so we could attach the 12v refrigerator to the solar charge controller. it didn't work at first, kept giving us a short circuit alert. but then we tried it again with the DC power off before connecting the fridge then turning it on. that seemed to work.
we had two varieties of bitter melon for dinner, along with some daikon radish soup which i poured over my rice. i left around 7pm, eager to get home before it got any colder (temperature in the 50's). it wasn't too bad, with my long-sleeved black flannel shirt underneath an adidas tracksuit jacket.
i was originally going to wake up at 9am this morning to ride down to chinatown and haymarket, but when i saw the rain clouds about to engulf boston on the doppler radar, i went back to sleep. i woke up at 10am, went to the cafe by 11:30am. there was a little sprinkle, but not enough to get soaked.
we weren't sure if it'd be busy today because of the rainy weather. sometimes rain keeps customers away, while other times it might compel them to get some comfort takeout food. there was already two uber eats order this morning before i arrived, a chicken bento and a beef noodle soup.
it got busy around lunchtime, and we faced a situation when we were almost out of char siu pork, which for some reason was the most popular item on the menu today. followed closely by beef noodle soup. beef noodle soup i can understand - when the weather turns cold people have a craving for that kind of umami comfort food. but char siu? that was a mystery. i had my eye on the clock, waiting for it to be less busy so i could run down to market basket to get more pork.
my aunt showed up in the early afternoon. she left with some braised eggs and beef shank, as well as some scallion bread.
i left for market basket a bit before 2pm. besides the pork (they'd just restocked, so i got some good portions), i also got some milk, bean sprouts, scallions, and some all spice. plus i bought some chips and a few honey crisp apples.
i got back to the cafe by 2:30pm. my father was impressed with the pork selection, with its fine marbling. my father cut the pork them my parents left it in some char siu marinade overnight, to be cooked tomorrow morning. fortunately we still had enough to last us until the end of the day. my father cooked the leftover pork skin to make some homemade pork rings.
i made another batch of tea eggs, after we already started using the batch i made just yesterday. we must've gone through 20 eggs today. in a single day we can easily go through a batch of 30 eggs. i have to start figuring out a way to not only make more but storing more as well (which may mean another crock-pot upgrade).
besides char siu, we were also running low on salt and pepper chicken. when casey showed up later in the afternoon with her two grandsons, they ate the last of our chicken bento, so we were forced to fry more. this gave us a chance to use our t-fal deep fryer for the second time this week.
the more we use the deep fryer, the more we prefer it over our old method of cooking in a pot on the induction stove. the old way was messy and smelly and you always had to keep on eye on it. with our new deep fryer, all we have to worry about is the time. it maintains our set temperature, and there's less smell because it doesn't overheat the oil or burn the fallen crumbs. it's easy to use, and we can deep fry at a moment's notice. the only thing is the cleaning, but the autofiltration already makes cleaning that much easier versus traditional frying.
my father topped off the used oil with some fresh oil, to keep the level between the max and min lines. after cooking the chicken, my father fried some pork cutlets, which i breaded in the japanese style of flour-egg wash-panko crumbs. he was going to just single fry them, but after seeing the results of a double fry, he double fried the rest of the cutlets. casey saw what we were doing and bought two cutlets on the spot, making sure we gave her some tonkatsu sauce. the fried cutlet was juicy and delicious, but it needs to be eaten fresh, as the crust turns a little hard after it gets cold.
around 6pm i turned the knob on the deep fryer to filtration. the oil temperature was around 180 degrees, which was cool enough for the filtration to begin immediately, as we watched it quickly drain, leaving behind a layer of leftover crumbs and some oil too low to be filtered. i wanted to clean but it was close to closing time so my father said to leave it for tomorrow.
i ended up staying at the cafe until closing. even if i wanted to leave, it was raining all afternoon into the evening. good thing i stayed, because around 5pm we hit another busy stretch.
it was almost 7pm by the time i got back home. the rain had stopped for the time being, but the streets were wet and my bike seat was soaked (nothing that a plastic bag can't fix). my rear light also ran out of battery, but i had reflectors on my fender and messenger bag, so hopefully cars behind could still see me.
i had another temu package and an amazon delivery on my doorstep. the amazon purchase was a pair of fancy colgate plague pro-release toothpaste ($6.50/tube). as for the temu stuff, it included another CO2 checker with CO2 indicator fluid, as well as a new alarm clock to replace the one in my bathroom that keeps on stopping every so often.
i didn't have dinner until 9pm, reheated some leftover pork and egg that my mother gave me, along with some pickled mustard green.
woke up at 9am, left the house before 10am for my thursday morning run. weather condition was the same as tuesday - 50's, sunny - but without the wind, so it felt nicer. an hour later i was back at home. after a shower, i left for the cafe before 11:30am.
we hardly had any customers today until almost 1pm, then it was a steady stream. once again a lot of bentos, with the most popular today being minced pork. beef noodle soup was also popular, as well as the dumplings. as always, bubble tea is always a favorite.
i made a new batch of tea eggs today, simmering them for 2 hours to maximize the flavor. i also grounded some new tea egg spices, i'll need to restock a few spices. i'm not sure if the spices need to be grounded, or can they simply be crushed, because grinding creates a lot of dust, which creates a bit of a mess in the brine. nobody drinks the brine so it's not really an issue, but if we were to create a spice packet for soup, i wouldn't grind them spices, and may just leave them as whole pieces.
my mother grilled some tofu and left them for me to eat. however it got busy, and by the time i got to the tofu, they were already cold. i didn't mind, i ate them stinkless tofu style with some taiwanese paocai and a dab of hunan hot sauce on each tofu.
my sister's godmother showed me at the cafe. apparently my sister is home, and scheming to buy a new dog, and asked her godmother to go dog shopping with her. i was incensed, as any dog purchasing decision has to be made by the family as a whole, because i 100% guarantee that i will end up having to take care of the dog at some point. i told my mother i would poison the dog if my sister brought it to belmont to pee on the lawn which i've been meticulously grooming for years.
i left the cafe early today, around 3:30pm. i went home to work on the bicycle.
i installed the front tire with the triple-patched old tube. it was a pain to install, and when i tried to pump it with air, it wouldn't inflate, meaning either the patches failed, or the tube sprung a new leak. i struggled again to remove the tire and throw out the old tube. i then switched to the rear tire. that one was slightly easier to install, new tube with new tire. i put the wheel back on the frame and pumped the tire to 80 psi which held. success! i then went back to the front tire, this time with a new tube as well. maybe because i've worked on it so many times already, but this time the install was easier. i held my breath as i installed the wheel onto the frame and pumped up the tire. it held as well, 80 psi.
the bike as-is is rideable, but i need to do a few additional fixes. i need to install a brand new rear brake cable (missing), and probably replace the front brake cable while i'm at it. it needs a bit more cleaning, polishing off the grease and mildew buildup. the caliper brakes are also very rusty, need some oiling to lubricate them. seems like the more i fix, the more things i find that need fixing. i already spent $50 on new tires and tubes, i don't plan on spending anymore for this old rusty bike. in hindsight, i sort of regret taking on this project, as the bike itself is not in the best shape with so much rusting. i could always salvage the tubes/tires for future projects, and the bike is so junky, i wouldn't need to worry about anyone stealing it.
my new amazon-brand duvet cover arrived today. they had a spa blue colored one that i really liked ($30) but had been out of stock for a while. but when the white colored version went on sale for $19, i ended up getting that one, as my down comforter currently doesn't have a duvet (see: dryer pen mishap). i put it on and it looks okay. it has a white-on-white striped pattern which is nice, understated but elegant, though a little basic. if the blue version ever becomes available and goes on sale, i might get that one as well.
alex sent me a photo of the flipper package i sent him. he'd been checking its status ever since i shipped it off, while i've basically forgot about it after he paid me via paypal. it actually arrived pretty fast, in just 9 days (actually earlier than that, mailman failed to deliver it the previous day because he wasn't home). i was expecting 10-14 days.
i slept between 7-8pm. when i woke up i heated up two leftover meat buns for dinner in the microwave.
i had about 2 hours this morning to do all the things i wanted to get done before heading off to work at the cafe. the most important thing was to fix my rear flat tire. ever since i replaced the rear tire back in september 2021
(with a kenda kwest W tire 26 x 1.5"), it's been a lot easier to remove, i just need a single tire lever to get it started and then i can pull off the tire along with the inner tube. i pumped up the inner tube and put it in the tub to see where the leak was but i couldn't find it. i had to pump up the inner tube a little bit more before i spotted the puncture. it was next to some faint writing where i wrote "dec 14 2021" which confused me, until i realized the writing was ink from the previous inner tube
that transferred to this replacement tube. this tube was a new one i replaced back in april 2023
, so it had zero patches. as always, i checked the tire as well to make sure whatever punctured the tube isn't still embedded (it wasn't). after i patched the hole, i installed it back on the bike and was ready to ride by 10:30am.
i gathered my things and set out, not prepared to return until later this afternoon. first stop was the beacon street whole foods, to return the HQST MPPT solar controller. i actually returned the one old (with the broken bluetooth) because when i tried contacting HQST twice about honoring their warranty they never replied back. so i had no choice but to do the old switcheroo, buy the same one again from amazon, return the broken one. anyway, there was a line of people waiting to return stuff using the self service kiosk, so i decided to return it inside. the employee told me her phone didn't work and said i could use the self service kiosk instead. so i ended up waiting 10 minutes to return the item when usually i could get it done in a few seconds.
after that i went to harvard vanguard to pick up a prescription for my mother. the indian pharmacist was there, we chatted about how cold it was last night (temperature dipped into the upper 40's).
from there i biked towards cambridge common, taking the new bike lane on garden street, which was made into a one way road to accomodate the bikes (which i still think was a stupid idea and hope they revert back). i got the cafe a bit after 11:30am.
the t-fal deep fryer was still sitting on the countertop. my mother had covered it up with a white trash bag. i suggested to my father that we pour the content of the oil box back into the oil container. this way both the container and the deep fryer would be easier to store, instead of storing the deep fryer with a full oil box (liable to slosh and spill). so that's what we ended up doing. it also gave us a change to see how the oil box pours and see if it leaks. the only leakage was from the spring-loaded opening where the oil drains into, so you have to be careful with the pouring. we also compared the fry oil with a bottle of clean vegetable oil (both in 3L containers): the clean oil is entirely clear and has no smell, while the fry oil is just slightly opaque with a fried chicken smell. you could also see that we lost about half a cup of oil just from evaporation and mixing with the fry crumbs.
yesterday the most popular item was the beef noodle soup (8). today it was the bento box with char siu being the most popular choice. most of the customers came around the lunchtime period, after that it wasn't too busy. my parents had time to make some more scallion bread and meat buns. my godmother showed up again along with her friend. i could've left by 2pm, but stuck around until 4pm in case it might get busy. i took home all the leftover scallion bread and two old tea eggs.
being home relatively early and with pleasant weather, i decided to take the opportunity to fix the red spirit 3-speed that'd been sitting on my kitchen floor since august. what it primarily needed was tire replacements. when i started the repair work a few months ago, i managed to swap out the front tire but kept the old inner tube because it looked like it was still in decent shape. after a few hours the front wheel went flat, so obviously the inner tube was bad. so today i moved the bike outside so i had more room to work. it took a lot of effort to remove the front tire, it was on super tight. i ended up having to use my metal tire levers. i took out the inner tube and soaked it in the bathtub to check for leaks. i had the same problem i did this morning, i had to fill up the tube with more air because i saw the leaks. there were three: a tiny one facing the road, and two larger holes on the inside. that made me think the inner holes might've been caused by the metal tire levers. i decided to patch the holes, in a last ditch effort to save the inner tube, even though i had a spare. the two inner holes were hard to patch because they were so close to one another. the patch might not take, i won't know until i reinstall the tube.
i then went to work on the rear wheel. this bike uses an old 3-speed shimano gear hub, and i had to consult a few youtube videos to figure out how to disconnect the gear hub, which turned out to be pretty easy, just unscrew the shifter cable. removing the tire was challenging as the rubber had vulcanized and it basically disintegrated while i removed it. i was hoping to save the inner tube like i did for the front wheel, but when i saw the large puncture wound, i ended up throwing the whole thing away, tire and tube. i then spent some time polishing the gear hub with some WD-40 soaked rags, which was covered in decades old grease. i also polished parts of the frame. it started getting late (5:30pm) and i'd already suffered a few mosquito bites, so i decided to call it a day, continue fixing tomorrow.
for dinner i ate a tea egg and finished all the leftover scallion bread. i fell asleep on the couch after watching a stream of damian lillard reaction videos on youtube over his blockbuster trade to the milwaukee bucks, which are now favored to win the NBA eastern conference, usurping the porzingis-acquired celtics. the heat from the laptop was keeping my stomach warm. i got only after 30 minutes because it was too cold inside the house, temperature dropping to 65 degrees.
now that fall is officially here (began this past saturday), everyday it gets harder and harder to run as the temperature begins to dip. this morning it was in the 50's and i almost decided not to go running. not only that but it was also windy as well (20 mph). nevertheless, i managed to compel myself to go around 10am. once i started running, once i warmed up, the cooler weather actually felt pretty nice. i was also listening to the strike force five
podcast which was pretty funny, so made the time go by faster.
i got home a bit after 11am, took a shower, got ready to head down to the cafe around 11:30am. but when i took my bike out, i discovered the back tire was completely flat. so instead i took my trek allant bike instead. it's nice to ride a bike with functioning gears, i'd forgotten what a normal bike is supposed to feel like. because of the delay, i didn't get to the cafe until 11:45am.
li got in touch with me again today, said he preferred to stay at my place because it was more comfortable despite being a bit farther from the astrophysicist office. i replied back, said i looked forward to seeing him in a few weeks.
our new deep fryer arrived today, delivered to my parents' place. since it wasn't busy (12:15pm), i took the car and drove to belmont to pick up the package. while i was there i also checked the rain barrels. definitely something is going on, as all the barrels were less than half filled. given the amount of rain we had over the past few days, they should be filled to capacity by many degrees. somewhere we have a leak. i closed off a connecting spigots, so when my father checks the barrels again tonight or tomorrow and sees that one is more empty than the others, we'll be close to figuring out where the leak is. it's a good thing that the growing season is winding to a close and we're not dependent on the rain barrels anymore.
i got back to the cafe around 12:30pm.
today was a day where it was busy but i didn't notice because there were other stuff going on. like my godmother and her friend showing up again, followed later by my 2nd aunt. i was also making a new batch of tea eggs. and my parents decided to make some meat buns and scallion bread. but the thing that took center stage was using the t-fal EZ clean deep fryer for the very first time.
before we even used the deep fryer, the first thing we noticed was it was actually smaller than what we originally thought. which is both good and bad: good because it can now fit on the table without having to move anything, but bad because the fry basket is only big enough to fry 3 chicken pieces at a time (we were thinking we could 4 pieces previously). but all and all, we like the more compact size, even though this is actually the larger model (3.5L versus the smaller 1.8L).
my father started up the deep fryer around 1:30pm. it took 3L of vegetable oil (an entire bottle) to fill the container, though we could've added more (minimum 2.8L, maximum 3.5L). one good thing about an electric deep fryer is the temperature control. frying manually - it's easy for the oil temperature to be either too low or too high. too low the food doesn't get cooked, too high the food gets burned. with the deep fryer you set the temperature and never have to worry about it. we set it for 350 degrees (or more like 356 degrees, as t-fal is a french company, so the temperature is incremented via celsius).
my father fried the breaded chicken at 3 minutes, flipping it over with chopsticks at the midway point. my mother said they weren't brown enough so he adjusted it to 4 minutes. i think with more oil we don't even need to flip them over, but the chicken will actually float, so we'd still need to flip. with the lid on the deep fryer, you don't even really notice it's frying. unlike the way my father fried before, were he had to lay down a perimeter of cardboard and paper towel to control the oil splatter. there was virtually zero splatter with the deep fryer, and the only evidence of frying besides the sound is the smoke coming through the vents on the lid.
i didn't think the sides of the deep fryer would be hot so was surprised to find out it was around 118 degrees outside. in hindsight i shouldn't have been too surprised, given the hot oil inside was at 350 degrees.
once we were done frying, we left the deep fryer to cool down, turned it off and unplugged it. the main reason why we got the t-fal was the auto oil filtration capability. turning the knob to drain, the deep fryer will automatically filter and drain the cooking oil once the temperature is cool enough, about 3 hours. we didn't want to risk draining out super hot oil, so we decided to wait before turning the knob to drain. an hour later, using an infrared thermometer, the oil temperature had dropped down to 180 degrees. so we decided to turn the knob. it seemed to be draining, but very slowly. as the temperature continued to drop, i heard a soft clicking sound, and suddenly the oil began to drain fast, emptying the container after a few minutes. it emptied the oil into a oil box. i was curious about how this works, i think it uses some kind of temperature-controlled bimetal to open and close the drain, that's why it can still work even without electricity.
there was still a bit of oil left with the breaded crumbs, so we decided to tilt the deep fryer so i could elevate the back with some cardboard. i caught my father tipping the fryer too much at nearly 45 degrees, told him to be careful, otherwise we might spill the oil, which fortunately we didn't see. the remaining bit of oil mixed with crumbs would no longer drain as it was lower than the dome-shaped filter plug. we scraped all that oil crumbs into the trash before washing the container. some crumbs were very stuck to the container, but nothing a little presoak with hot soapy water and a sponge couldn't remove. another great thing about a deep fryer is because the heating element is about an inch above the bottom of the container, when things like crumbs sink to the cooler bottom, they don't burn because the hot oil rises to the top. that's something we'd never see with manual frying - leftover crumbs at the bottom of the pan that isn't completely scorched (and affecting the taste of the leftover oil).
that tilting we did earlier did in fact leak a little oil at the bottom of the deep fryer (a few tablespoons). not a big deal, we wiped it up with some paper towels, but something to remember for next time, always keep the oil box horizontal, don't tilt it unless you intent to pour out the oil. the filtered oil looked brand new, you couldn't tell we used it to fry a bunch of breaded chicken.
my sister made a cameo (i didn't see the dog), but left just as quickly. everyone's afraid to ask her when she'll be coming back to work. at this point i could care less. i've worked every day at the cafe for 7 weeks now, when i'm not getting supplies in my spare time. i've neglected a lot of side projects, like repotting my houseplants or fixing those bikes. it's exhausting, but not having to put up with my sister's shit is the reward.
i left around 6pm, taking with me some scallion bread and meat buns. my 2nd aunt also gave me a portuguese egg tart she bought from chinatown earlier today. i forgot i wasn't riding my usual trek with the rear baskets, so instead i had to strap the food to the rear back using some bungie netting.
i ate 2 of the meat buns as soon as i got home, but by then they were already cold. i could've warmed them up in the microwave steamer, but i was too hungry and too lazy to do that (i'll steam the other two buns for tomorrow). afterwards i ate the egg tart, which was all broken up after getting jostled on the bike.
the CO2 checker looked green when i got back, meaning i do have the correct concentration of CO2 in my fish tank. however i can't speak to the accuracy of the checker, since i used 6dKH water instead of 4dKH. i also added 6 drops of pH indicator, which may be too much (directions said to use 3), that's why my color is more intense. in a few days my other CO2 checker will arrive from temu, and that one does include some indicator solution, so i can compare the two.
i wet the bed again last night, the second time this year (last time was late january
). pretty soon i'll have to start wearing adult diapers. it all started because i was having a vivid dream about urinating, at the same time actually needing to go (drank a lot of water before bed) but holding it in because i didn't want to get out of bed. when i finally got up at 4:30am to use the bathroom, i noticed my underwear was damp. took me a few seconds to realize what happened. i then went back to bed, searching for the wet spot. took me a while to find, no smell, but i put a towel under the sheet to dry any dampness and slept on the other side of the bed.
when i woke up this morning around 9am, first thing i did was to a load of laundry, washing the bedsheets as well. i sniffed around the bare mattress but couldn't detect any urine smell, so i think i'm safe.
i called my mother asking her what she needed from market basket. since i had the car, i could pick up supplies from the somerville market, saving my parents a trip. i left before 10am, got back 30 minutes later. one thing they needed was ground pork with sausage consistency. this is a special item and we have to ring the butcher department to have them grind the pork for us. a butcher came out and said they didn't have the proper equipment today to grind for sausage, only regular. i still bought the pork butts, my mother said my father could chop them manually.
i returned home briefly to take my laundry out of the dryer and put the bedsheets on the bed. i left by 11am, stopping first at the cafe to drop off the supplies. while there i saw a small crowd of people looking up at something. it was a red-tailed hawk perched on a power line after being mobbed by bluejays. i parked the car and grabbed my telephoto lens to take some photos. after finishing with the cafe i continued to belmont. my mother was already making lunch, pan-fried some dumplings, but managed to scorch them.
i convinced my father to get the t-fal EZ clean deep fryer. our originally plan was to do a trial run with our existing presto deep fryer. but the presto fry basket is so small, we could only fry a single chicken piece at a time. plus it doesn't have the auto-filtration feature like the t-fal, so the cooking oil we use would be tainted, plus we'd need to filter the oil manually. by getting the t-fal (which we were already thinking about doing) we can start using it now. and for some reason there was a $10 off coupon for that model, so we ended up paying $120 (before taxes).
in the early afternoon, my father and i were out in the backyard doing yard work, while my mother went out for a walk. i pulled most plants from RB0, leaving just a few hollyhocks, garlics, and the roots of hyacinth beans. i relocated the nasturtiums to the southern bed, not sure if they'll survive, but i was ready to toss them out anyway, so if they live it'll be a bonus. i relocated 2 thai basil plants to RB3. and 2 small peppers that i planted in late summer that still haven't flowered yet i put them into small pots, maybe keep them alive during the winter. i tilled the soil a bit with a bow rake, got it ready for some fall planting.
my father was busy collecting blue bean seed pods. i learned that waiting for the pods to dry is a bad enough, because it's been so wet, they'll get moldy. best time to harvest the pods for seeds is when they get mottled with purplish brown spots. last year we barely got any blue seeds; this year we have a bumper crop with mostly blue seeds. seeds so big sometimes they're bursting out of their skin (not sure if those are still viable).
i noticed the water level in the rain barrels had decreased again (all barrels only midway filled), which made me think there was another leak somewhere. we tested the long garden hose connecting the sunroom barrels to the one behind the garage by connecting the hose to the faucet and turning it on to see if there were any leaks. that hose passed the test. later i tested the hose connecting the bedroom corner rain barrel to the 3 in front of the house near my old bedroom. that hose all passed the test. the only hose i didn't test was the one from the barrels in front of the living room to the one behind the garage. but that one would be the least likely to leak because yesterday those front rain barrels had more water than the other barrels when we had the water gauge leak. my father thinks we didn't get as much rain as we thought, and the barrels just seem empty because they had time to equalize. we'll know for sure after a few days, when it stops raining, to see if we still have water in the barrels.
we went back inside once it began to rain. i did notice rain was coming from the downspouts, but not in torrents, but rather just trickles. so maybe the barrels didn't all fill up yesterday.
in the mid-afternoon my father grilled some buffalo wings because my mother said she wanted to eat some. they were okay, but i ate one without sauce and it tasted a little fishy. later i had to rush to the bathroom with a quick case of diarrhea, i blame the chicken.
li contacted me about looking for a place to stay for 1-1/2 weeks in october, when he and his wife will be in town for an astrophysicist conference. i told him he can either stay at the apartment above my sister's place, or stay at my place. if he stayed at my place, i would temporarily move into the guest bedroom so he and his wife can have the bigger room.
i broke the plastic handle of a pair of scissors. so i used some clear JB weld epoxy to glue the handle back. not sure if it'll hold, it'll need a few days to cure properly.
i repotted the crowded pennyworts, splitting them into 3 pots. i use soaked sphagnum moss as the main substrate, but added a handful of compost at the bottom for nutrients. a few broken stems i'm taking home possibility to propagate in water.
right before dinner i was out the rain sowing some red japanese mustard and cilantro seeds into RB0. next weekend i'll plant some daikon seeds into one of the other raised beds and chinese celery seeds into the long planters.
for dinner my father grilled some more mackerels. he splashed some chinese baijiu onto the fish hoping to remove some of the fishy taste, but ended up making them taste like baijiu. he also added some chinese sausages into the rice, but didn't realize they had expired and were rancid, so the rice had a rancid taste as well. my mother made some steamed egg with pork.
my father gave me a ride back to cambridge, i got back by 7pm. i had a temu order waiting on the doorstep. in the package was: aquarium filter sponge, plant pots, foam cover for aquarium filter intake tube, white window insulation, silica gel packets, glass CO2 checker. i knew the pots would be flimsy, but i didn't realize how small they were. i was going to use them for my pilea transplants. the box for the CO2 checker was crushed. the checker itself was fine, but there's some minor abrasion marks on the glass. i cut the white aquarium filter sponge down to size and put two pieces into my hang-on-back filter. i took out the activated carbon sock because i read most aquariums don't need that type of chemical filtration. besides, i was afraid it was filtering out the plant fertilizer i've been adding. these new filter sponge are just for mechanical filtration, a finer level of filtering compared to the coarse sponge below.
close to midnight i started working on making my own DIY CO2 indicator solution. the trick is to dilute some baking soda in distilled water so it had a concentration of 4dKH. i weighed out 1000ml of distilled water. to that i added 1.20g of baking soda, making a 40dKH solution. i then transferred 50ml of 40dKH solution to 450ml of distilled water, which in theory should give me a 4dKH solution. unfortunately when i checked with the KH tester, it said i had a 6dKH solution. i figured it was within the margin of error, or that i had contaminants. so i filled the CO2 checker with 5ml of "4dKH" solution and added 6 drops of pH indicator. i installed it in the aquarium, hoping to see some color changes tomorrow (blue is low CO2, green is good, yellow is high CO2).
because i had the car, i wasn't in any hurry to wake up this morning. so i slept late, didn't get up until 10:30am. there was no sun rousing me to wake up anyway, the sky an overcast grey, more rain forecasted for today.
i didn't leave until noontime. it was dry outside. being in a car afforded me the luxury of climate control and radio. i arrived in belmont in about 10 minutes.
i was in the backyard setting up the decoy owl my sister left on the front steps. a bluejay was squawking, not sure if it had anything to do with the owl. it came on a long string with i thought was weird, but apparently people sometimes hang a decoy owl so it'll rotate, giving the false impression that it's moving. i saw a chipmunk hiding behind the corner catch barrel near the bedroom. my mother came out briefly to collect some broad beans and bitter melons. when i inspected the rain barrels, i was shocked to discover they were all empty. they were already near capacity from last weekend, and must've overfilled from the downpours yesterday. so to see them empty was disheartening. my father came out and together we checked for leaks. nothing seemed obvious, so i figured maybe a critter had chewed a hole in one of the connecting hoses. because the barrels by the living room/garage still had some water, we figured the leak happened near the basement entrance, on the opposite side of the house. we were about to test one of the connecting hoses (by running faucet water through it) when my father spotted the leak: the rain barrel water gauge had fallen to the ground, slowly trickling out a few hundred gallons of rain water. not sure how it could've happened, but it might've been something my mother did when she used the ladder to collect some bitter melons climbing the RB3 trellis.
i came back inside to eat: some buttercup squash rice porridge, salted duck eggs, and a piece of toasted artisanal raisin bread. there was a jets-patriots game that started at 1pm, i had it in the background. new england ended up winning, but the game was closer than it should be (15-10), considering the jets are a shell of what they were supposed to be this season before aaron rodgers got injured.
my father and i pulled out the presto profry digital deep fryer from the basement, a gift from jack. my father wants to get an electric deep fryer (t-fal ultimate EZ clean 3.5L deep fryer) to more easily cook the breaded chicken we serve at the cafe, but i suggested we use our old deep fryer machine to try one out first. so two issues with the presto: the frying cage is too small (too narrow and long, can only cook one piece of chicken, maybe two), and there's no automatic oil filtration. the presto takes about 3L of cooking oil to reach the minimum oil line, we figured this out by filling it up with water.
it started raining again in the afternoon. wasn't any downpours, but a slow steady drizzle. when i went out around 4:30pm to check the rain barrels, most of them were nearly full again after just a few hours of rain.
my father grilled some salted mackerel in the kitchen for dinner, along with a smoked ham & broad bean stirfry. we ate leftover cafe rice from yesterday.
after dinner i drove the honda back to cambridge again, so i could drive back tomorrow morning (looks to be rainy again). once again i lucked out and found parking.
after a shower i turned on the sunday night football game between pittsburgh and las vegas. the raiders are a fun team to watch with so many former patriots players and coaches: josh mcdaniels, jimmy garoppolo, brian hoyer, jakobi meyers, phillip dorsett, adam butler, and many others. so naturally i was rooting for the raiders. they kept it interesting, but lost in the end (23-18), which seems all too common these days for the patriots - east and west. elsewhere in the NFL, the dolphins scored 70-20 against the broncos. an NFL team hasn't scored 70 points since the 60's.
it has rained 13 of the last 16 weekends since june, this weekend being no exception. so i was surprised when i woke up this morning and saw that it was dry outside. rain was definitely coming, but seemed to be stalled to our south. in that case it meant i could walk down to the cafe without getting wet, an improvement over my original plan. when i went to go weigh myself on the xiaomi smart scale, it didn't work because it was out of power. i needed 4 AAA batteries which i didn't have at home. i got the scale back in march 2022, it's been more than a year, that's a pretty good battery life.
i left for the cafe by 10:10am, getting there at 10:30am. my parents were in the middle of making vegetarian buns, my mother just filled the drink fridge. while making sure all the drinks were pushed to the front of the display, i noticed there was a leak inside the fridge. it didn't take me long to discover one of the coca-cola cans had burst. that was the easy part. the hard part was cleaning up the mess it left as it dripped sugary soda all inside the display fridge. i had 20 minutes before we opened to clean it all up. my mother finally came to help.
we didn't know if it'd be busy with the forecast of rain for much of the day. but it stayed dry for most of the day, with a few sprinkles that barely wet the pavement. at first it felt like it'd be busy as we had a lot of customers for the first two hours. but after that, hardly anyone came to the cafe. not bento boxes today, but a lot of noodles: beef noodle soup, ramen, zhajiang. there were also 3 separate tea egg orders.
my parents went to go pick up the honda element today from the fresh pond honda dealership this morning. we've avoided having anything fixed at the dealership knowing it'd be expensive, but after taking the honda to our independent mechanic a few times already and the problems still persisting, we figured it was worth the extra cost just to get it fix correctly. the cost? $4396. they fixed 7 things total: replaced drive belt and alternator ($1198), replaced barking brake shoes ($407), replaced parking brake cable ($862), replaced rear brake rotors ($576), replaced front pads and rotors ($588), replace front stabilizer links ($239), replaced worn L/F blower ball joint ($324). essential what we got back was a brand new car - for the low price of $4400. $2800 of that was just labor cost, parts came out to around $1500.
my mother grilled some firm tofu for lunch. i added some hunan hot sauce combined with some taiwanese paocai for something close to a taiwanese stinky tofu experience - minus the fermented tofu stink. i feel like this is something we could sell at the cafe. my father made some mantou buns with leftover dough and i ate some with leftover red roasted beef my 2nd aunt had brought to the cafe.
i sorted the some seeds we had at the cafe: hyacinth beans (from the ones climbing the railing of the parking lot patio), buttercup squash (from squashes brought from belmont), and bitter melon (likewise). my 2nd aunt asked if she could have some squash seeds eventually to give to a gardening friend of hers.
i sorted 2 boxes of taiwanese noodles (150g exactly per bundle). i also installed another wire rack shelving in our sliding glass door commercial refrigerator. we'll have to wait and see if it's a good idea. it gives us another shelf of storage, but it's low height and dangerously close to the one of ventilation fans inside the fridge.
we closed close to 4pm so we could do a costco supply run, saving us a trip later this weekend. we took the newly refurbished honda element. gone were the weird squeaks and clinking sounds. the brakes stopped on a dime like they're practically brand new (actually they were brand new). the check engine light was also off. the interior of the vehicle did smell like mechanic grease, but that's just proof of the $2800 worth of manhours. the car radio was flashing though, had to be activated with a special code which my father later found sewn into the sun visor.
we went to the everett costco via the relatively straight path of davis square/tufts university/mystic river. approaching costco, we saw a long traffic jam going outbound, something we can look forward to when we leave.
even though costco closes at 6pm on saturdays, the place was packed more than the mornings or afternoons. combined that with the rain, which was now falling at a drizzle rate. all the shoppers were well-behaved, which was surprising, with so many people under one warehouse roof. a lot of asian college kids, who took ubers to get there and back (for those who don't own cars). they were selling pumpkins the size of beach balls for just $7.99. they also carried the beast blender ($150) which i'd never seen before; at first i thought they were fancy camping lights.
we left costco by 5:20pm but it took us about 45 minutes to get back to the cafe because of the traffic. that whole shopping plaza is serviced through a bottle neck. whenever there's traffic, congestion can build up quick, and the entire area grounds to a crawl. once again, surprisingly, not that much road rage, though occasionally i'd hear a car honking. i wouldn't want to come here during the christmas shopping season on a weekend.
we didn't get back to the cafe until after 6pm. we took 15 minutes to unload the supplies, before i drove the toyota back to belmont while my parents took the honda.
i was out in the backyard briefly. that's when i saw a large rabbit feeding on the lawn between RB1 and RB2. it hopped away in space between the two raised beds. later i saw it behind RB1, where i must've surprised it, and it tried to dart away, but unfortunately crashing into the newly built wire fencing for RB0, before running towards the long raised planters.
originally my mother wanted to order out (like cafe vanak), but afraid there might be a long wait for takeout, she ended up making some wonton soup for dinner, while my father had some leftover beef noodle soup. i added some sichuan peppercorn oil to my broth, made it taste so much better. peppercorn oil is due for a big moment, i predict it's going to be the next food condiment fad, like hot honey or kewpie doll mayo.
i drove the honda back to cambridge, saved my parents the trouble of having to come pick me up tomorrow morning in the rain (or me having to take a bus). i was afraid i wouldn't find any parking, but found one that didn't even need parallel parking.
saturday television programming is the worst this time of the year. seems like all the major networks are carrying college football, something i could care less about (i rarely watch any collegiate sports). i did notice that deion sanders' colorado buffaloes (PAC-12) lost their game today against the oregon ducks, 6-42, after having gone undefeated so far this season (3-0).
48 hours later my arm is still sore from the moderna vaccine. i was able to sleep on that arm last night (wasn't able to do that the first time), but the area still hurts if i touch it. as for other side effects i have none.
after fresh squeezing a container of orange juice for my mother, i left for the cafe, getting there around 11:15am to start my friday shift.
the day started slow, but we got an influx of business when casey and her grandsons and binbin with anderson both showed up at the cafe at the same time. casey was there picking up her grandsons from BB&N, while binbin was there for a BB&N parent interview to see if anderson might possibly attend. the annual tuition at buckingham browne & nichols is $50,000. casey's grandsons were just as annoying as last time, kept passing through the kitchen, and must've used the bathroom at least a dozen times. anderson was more well behaved, but plowed through a few servings of charsiu pork and chinese sausage.
i made another batch of taiwanese paocai, now we have 6 containers ready for customers. i almost made a new batch of tea eggs, but unfortunately we don't have enough eggs. we have enough tea eggs for tomorrow (saturday), but it's next week i'm worried about.
the only thing i ate all day was a piece of bread, and i didn't drink anything either (except for a few sips of orange juice). but i was neither hungry or thirsty, felt like i was busy enough that time went by pretty quickly and i didn't leave until almost 6:30pm closing time.
i left soon after getting back home, walking down to walgreens to stock up on some almonds on sale and to activate a coupon i got with my vaccination for a future $10 off any walgreens purchase. the sunset was a gradient of magenta to lavender to blue. coming back i went to dollar tree to get some sour patch kids, had a craving for some of that citric acid action.
i made dinner soon after returning home. it was a luxury korean ramen kind of night. i had an unopened package of firm tofu in the fridge. i noticed it'd expired back in august, but i've had out-of-date tofu before without issue. however when i opened this package, the tofu had a very strong rotten smell. in fact, it smelled very much like my beloved stinky tofu, that's why i wasn't immediately repulsed but rather intrigued. could this actually be stinky tofu? naturally fermented in my fridge because i left it to expire? so i decided to eat it, figured the worst that could happen would be explosive diarrhea.
this naturally fermented tofu had a sour taste besides the rancid smell. it did indeed taste like stinky tofu minus the crispy fried exterior. i ate carefully, monitoring to see how my digestive system would react to this suspicious tofu. i'm happy to report that i ate everything without any issues.
i ate while watching band of brothers on netflix, finishing episodes 7 and 8. alex sent me payment for his flippers shipment.