my roommate came with me into boston today to see the annual santa speedo run, definitely not something they'd have back home in china. before we left, he borrowed my cellphone so he could call his wife to schedule a time they could skype online (she was supposed to call last night, but it was the end of the muslim "festival of sacrifice" AKA eid al-adha [arabic] AKA qurban ayt [kazakh] and she was entertaining guests at home). the weather was blustery, with a strong wind and temperature in the lower 30's, but the sky was clear. we made it to copley with minutes to spare before the start of the run.

there was definitely more people running this year as a torrent of scantily-clad santas ran down the streets of boston. i could never decide to use the wide-angle or the telephoto lens, so i went with the telephoto, which was what i used last year. next year i may want to use the wide angle in order to capture more action. the fact that it's cold means the runners go by pretty quickly, so there isn't a lot of time to fumble with the camera equipment in order to get some decent shots. my roommate shot some video, i'm going to ask if i could get a copy of the footage if it's digital.

i ended up answering questions from two different tourists as to what was going on. the santa speedo run hasn't been going on long enough that it's developed into a local tradition yet. it's definitely not in any boston tour guides, so it's still a hidden event. what city wouldn't want runners dressed in their santa underwear running around their streets though? not sure if it drums up any sales for the nearby businesses, but it's definitely something fun to see, the last fling of the year.

afterwards i gave my roommate a tour of the nearby boston public library. i showed him the old library before taking him to the book stacks. we spent some time browsing their extensive collection of foreign language books, from chinese to russian and all sorts of arabic-script books, like urdu and farsi, which he was able to read but didn't understand what they said. from there we cut across boston common into downtown crossing, where we visited the brattle book store on west street. the last time i was there was back in high school, so more than 15 years ago. my roommate wanted to get his hands on some cheap books, and there seems to be less and less bookstores these days, let alone used ones. his favorite subject is history and we found a used copy of "the new emperor: china in the era of mao and deng" for $1 and a beautiful oversized atlas from 1975 for $1 as well. the maps were particularly interesting for its historical value: north and south vietnam, and unified soviet union. i picked up the "loneyl planet unpacked," a collection of travel disaster stories published in 1999. i usually don't like travelogues because they seem pretentious (only because i envy anyone who travels) but once i start reading i can't put it down. we browsed around inside but most of those books were too expensive, even at 50% discount over cover price (at least compared to the dollar books outside).

from downtown crossing we continued further to haymarket, where we both picked up some cheap produce. i figured we were there late enough that they'd already be closing, but business was pretty brisk. i got 2 lbs. worth of cherries for $3, and about a dozen cloves of garlic for $1.50. we grabbed the subway from government center and returned to cambridge.

we stopped off at a dunkin' donuts for me to get a large white hot chocolate before we came home (a treat, considering i missed breakfast and lunch and only had a banana). even though we were out for only 5 hours, at least half of the time we were walking, so i was pretty beat. the soothing hot chocolate felt good, and i emptied a can of soup into a pot for an early dinner. i moved my motorcycle from a car parked within millimeters of hitting my bike. the throttle was frozen solid, preventing me from running the engine, so i had to wheel the motorcycle in neutral to a new parking spot a few yards away. i felt sleepy enough to retire from the living room and take a couple of hours to nap in my bedroom. i woke up around 11pm, still hungry. i fixed myself a chicken pot pie while watching SNL hosted my hugh laurie.