8:42am. "i hope i'm not calling too early," client B said, as i woke up to answered the phone this morning. he wanted to check my schedule and see when i'd be available to fly to las vegas. "we leave thursday morning next week, and come back friday night," he suggested. since the client lives in providence, he asked if i could fly out from there as well. "i don't have a car," i replied, "i guess i could take a train and then a bus or something." so he found a flight out of boston. unfortunately in order to get a cheaper fare i wouldn't be able to come back friday night but instead forced to take a red eye saturday morning. i didn't mind except that might also happen to be the day when i was taking an tao to the airport. i wasn't sure so i called an tao at his office to confirm then i called back client B but ended up going straight to voicemail.

since i was already up there was no point in going back to sleep so i started my day. i did a little bit of work for everybody, but the main thing on my mind was waiting for the UPS guy to come by with my B&H shipment, which i knew from the package tracking that it'd arrive sometime today. once in a while i'd hear a noise and rush to the living room to see if i could see the brown truck outside my window. i waited for almost the entire day (afraid to listen to music or watch television because i didn't want to miss the chime should the delivery guy ring my bell) before it finally arrived around 5:30pm. i was so happy i was literally dancing in the living room. i slowly unraveled the packaging and took the lens out of the box. imagine a halo of light and a choir of angels singing. that's how i felt. i quickly unscrewed my kit lens and attached the new tamron 17-50mm f2.8 lens. weight-wise, it was definitely heavier, like a chunk of solid glass. it wasn't plastic, but rather made from a matte-finish metal. two things i noticed right away: first, the focusing is loud. on the canons you have these ultrasonic motors (USM) which help keep the focus quiet, but not the case on the tamron. it makes a loud mechanial whirling sound when it needs to focus a long distance, or little chirping sounds when making minute adjustments. it's not a big deal, because speed-wise it's still fast. the sounds make me nervous though, reminds me that there are moving parts inside, moving parts that can break. the second thing i noticed is the zoom direction is reversed. on the tamron turning it right clockwise zooms in while on the canon turning it right clockwise zooms out. once again, not a big deal, but i guess after using 2 different canon lenses, i instinctively turn right when i want to zoom out. when collapsed, the tamron lens is still about an inch longer than my canon kit lens, so unfortunately it would fit inside my zing camera case anymore.

picture-wise, this lens is sharp. despite the small size of my 1.8" preview LCD screen, i could tell right away the images were crisp. i went around the house taking photos of random things.

i could only play with the camera for a little while before i had to get ready for joel's 30th birthday get-together at the times restaurant/bar in the financial district. i took a shower, got dressed, and headed out the door around 6:30pm - of course armed with my brand new lens.

from 1998 to 2000 i worked at a small company called the screen house on the outskirts of the financial district (later we'd move to the boston design center in south boston). just your run-of-the-mill internet startup, i was employee number 8. at it's peak the company grew to about 80 people. across the street was an irish restaurant/bar called the times which was the bar that everyone would go after work to get drunk with coworker friends, occasionally a karaoke song here or there. since i didn't drink, i rarely visited, but to my fellow coworkers, the place was a holy site, filled with memories (good and bad). so it only seemed fitting we'd return after all these years. just the familiar walk itself through the tall glittering towers of boston's financial district brought back so much nostalgia.

it was joel's 30th birthday and for a present christian organized a collection (unbeknownst to me, so i didn't contribute) so joel could have some money to buy a new macbook. i was surprised how many ex-screen house (xSH) people were there but given where we were, maybe it wasn't such a mystery. almost half the people were former employees, while the rest were personal friends of joel through college or back home. it was a slow night at the times and most of the people there were friends-of-joel.

i ordered a coke but when i went to put $5 on the table the bartender didn't take it. did i not pay enough? or did i pay too much? the list of former screen house folks that were there: matt, mark, chris g., chris p., mark v., tim, christian, joe, joel, and myself. we reminisced about old times, stories that have been told over the years so much that they're almost scripture. somebody should write these stories down and make it into a book. a lot of these guys i haven't seen since forever, but a few admitted they followed my life story on occasion through the weblog. tim i saw last year, at joel's surprise 29th birthday party (he sure has a lot of parties!). mark i haven't seen since 2002, when i visit him and his wife at their new condo in brighton.

as for the new lens, it worked marvelously outside, capturing the city in all its glittery brilliance, but inside the bar, where the lighting was dim, most of the photos came out blurry. the ones i took with the fill-flash weren't any good either. even at f2.8, without sufficient lighting it's still impossible to get a decent image. it makes me wonder if i should consider getting the canon 50mm f1.8 lens ($70), which is about 2 full f-stops faster, resulting in better low-light imaging.

i left around 9:30pm, exiting with tim and mark who were out for a smoke. across the street we peered at the facade of our former office building, currently being renovated as a luxury condo. the door leading upstairs into the structure was temporarily boarded up. on the roof a new penthouse apartment had been built. the green monster known as the I-93 interstate highway used to loom down at one end of broad street (now the highway is underground, thanks in part to the big dig); now there's just a clear view to that harborside hotel with the giant archway.

mark gave me a short ride to downtown crossing, where i grabbed the subway back to cambridge. i decided to get off at harvard square so i could give client B another call: once again i just got the voicemail. i really hope i don't get another call early tomorrow morning again, although i'd like to get this situation resolved so i can start planning out my schedule. searching for photo ops, i snagged a few snapshots then proceeded to walk home.

back at home, an tao asked me about the mysterious call i made to him this morning. i told him about my potential business trip for next weekend, and told him how i rescheduled.