having been woken up prematurely for the past few weeks from the sound of loud NPR radio broadcast, it was weird to hear nothing but silence this morning. without the interrupt, i was able to sleep soundly and woke up after 10am. besides the end of my sleep troubles, two other good news greeted me this morning: i heard back from canon factory and i switched my health insurance coverage once again.

first, the camera news: i was hoping the repairs wouldn't be expensive but figured i'd be paying around $200, if not more (like $300). when canon factory service told me it'd only cost $121, i was overjoyed, and immediately called them up to authorize the repair. i should expect to see my telephoto lens back within a week or so. knowing now that lens repair isn't that expensive, i'll probably be even likelier to drop more lenses in the near future.

next, my health insurance: i was helping julie pick out a blue cross health plan (all related to her mysterious neck pain issue, now becoming a vision issue, which will require an expensive MRI scan) and told her the one that i have, the HMO basic blue direct. when she called blue cross, they said that plan was no longer available, and that she had to pick a different one (HMO blue premier value). when she told me the benefits of her particular plan, i realized it was exactly the same as mine (down to the premium, about $330/month) except hers had prescription drug coverage and mine doesn't. so i immediately called up blue cross myself and after about 30 minutes on the phone i got an upgrade. something about this whole experience leaves a bad taste in my mouth though: if blue cross knew there was a better plan for the same premium amount, why didn't they let me know about it? but instead they would've been happy to see me continue with my inferior previous plan, and then one day when i need prescription drugs, look the other way while i pay all of that out of pocket? if health insurance was really about helping people and not just about making money, this would've never happened. nevertheless, i have better health insurance coverage now, so there's a happy ending.

so the streak came to an end today after three consecutive days of running. it's kind of ironic, but because my neighbors' noisy NPR didn't wake me up this morning, i sort of got a late start to my day and didn't have time to go running. instead i went with my mother to market basket, which is good, because she has a car and i was able to buy some of the bigger items i wouldn't be able to get normally since i'd be on a motorcycle. things like a case of soda! so much for trying to stay healthy. i'll try starting a new running streak next week.

in the midafternoon julie and i went down to revere beach to check out the sand sculptures. the drive down was pretty horrible, with everyone trying to get out of the office early on a pleasant summer day. we parked by riley's roast beef and walked all the way down to revere station, where all the action was. the beach was surprisingly empty for such a nice day, with most people congregating near the sand sculpture area.

for your viewing pleasure: cat fight in the water:

i've never seen sand sculptures before so this was a first. the artists were done for the day (to be continued tomorrow), and a lot of them seemed to be from florida from the name tags. there was a pile of equipment nearby and we noticed big empty containers of elmer's glue, which must be the secret ingredient as to how they can keep the sand from collapsing. we also saw some wires poking out in certain sculptures.

the biggest sculpture was the pirates of the caribbean piece. unfortunately it was more advertising billboard than art, as the logos of the corporate contributors could be seen everywhere.

we walked back the way we came. it was actually pretty windy, which created sand storms on the beach. i was careful not to expose my camera to the elements (although back in the car i could feel grains of sand grinding in the gear of the zoom lens - it cleared up after i twisted it a few times though). revere beach is actually a pretty clean beach (based on my own experience, and i've seen some trashy beaches), with the ocean waves helping to clear the shoreline. nevertheless, you can still find pebbles or seashells or the occasional dead crab, as well as beach porn (NSFW photo above, click at your own peril). we got some food from riley's: i got a large roast beef sandwich and a small root beer ($8 total, which julie tells me is super expensive from what it used to be). we ate underneath one of several boardwalk awnings, surrounded by the obnoxious squawks of hungry seagulls. a group of them even attacked a little girl, causing her to drop her food and reduced her to a mess of tears running back into her father's arms, to be forever traumatized by birds.

the ride back into town was just as bad, if not worse. at least the congestions gave us time to make snide comments about all the other folks stuck in traffic. once i got back home, i watched the red sox game, losing to the bluejays tonight in a close game. in between commercial breaks i'd switch channels and catch doctor who on the scifi channel. that martha jones is hawt!