anytime happened to be right now as i got dressed and cruised down mass avenue to arlington heights. i dropped off my bike and they said it'd be ready in 45-60 minutes.
just so happens GBM is next door to sanford camera repair. it's the only place i know of in the area that does camera/lens repairs. the place seemed empty when i arrived but a head poked out from behind a wall to let me know he was on the phone and would get to me in a moment. so i took a seat and admired the decor. the place has been opened for 50 years and the interior of the store looked like not much has been changed since the 1960's, with wood paneling walls, faded posters, and a slew of broken camera parts behind a glass countertop. it definitely didn't instill any great confidence that this was a state-of-the-art repair shop. but pau had his nikon lens fixed here, so this place was legit.
i was bringing in my canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6 IS USM lens. as i might've mentioned before, the image stabilization (IS) on the lens hasn't been working for a while (a few years at least). at first i thought it was just my imagination, since IS can be so subtle i figured it might be working but i just couldn't see it. since i don't own any other IS lenses, there was nothing to compare it to. but having used my mother's canon SX230 camera with optical image stabilization, the difference was pretty noticeable. i use my telephoto the most during parades, which are normally during the daytime, so the sun is out and i get fairly bright exposures. when my photos are blurry though, i figured it was just because of shaky hands, or one of many other factors that contribute to bad photos. but recently i've been thinking more about the problem, that maybe i can get even better images if the IS was working like it should. afraid the repair would be expensive, i've sort of held off on getting it fixed. but with my recent slew of projects, i have a bit of money saved up, so it was the perfect time to get the lens repaired (like with my motorcycle tire replacement).
the man who spoke with my earlier took my lens and said, "let me have john take a look at it," and then disappeared behind the wall. my imagination ran wild. so there's somebody else? what was happening behind there? did he have john chained up, forced to fix cameras? after a few minutes, he returned, and told me i'd have to leave the lens in order to get it fixed. there was a $15 fee if i decide not to fix it once they open up the camera and determine what's the problem. i told him i'd like to get it repaired by the december 8th because i wanted to take some photos with it; he said that shouldn't be a problem.
now i'm beginning to wonder if it's cheaper to send the lens to the canon repair factory in new jersey to get it fixed. i actually dropped this lens 5 years ago and sent it to canon and got it repaired in less than 2 weeks (13 days). i was expecting it to cost hundreds of dollars, but it was only $121. when pau had a focusing issue on his nikon lens, it cost $300 to get it fixed at sanford. i'm estimating it might cost $200 to get it fixed; any higher, and i may decide to leave it as is. the lens itself works; there's no issue with the focusing, there's just no IS.
while i was walking the streets trying to kill time, client M called me. he wanted to know if i could recommend any hardware for a kiosk. apparently one of the companies at the trade show loved our interactive so much that they want a version to put in their office that's entirely populated with their own products and descriptions. if things go well i can get some work out of it. the client said at the very least we'll work together again in 2 more years during the next trade show.
i returned to GBM, this time to their retail store on the 2nd floor. i bought a bottle of startron enzyme fuel treatment ($7.95), enough to treat 48 gallons, which could last me 1-2 years depending on how little i ride. the description sounds too good to be true: "feel the difference from the first time you use it," cures ethanol problems, makes engines run smoothly and start easily, improves fuel economy, cleans valves and injectors, reduces emissions, removes carbon/varnish/water, overdosing not harmful. i can't wait to use it the next time i fuel up.
at about the 45 minute mark, i returned to the GBM office to wait until they finished. sitting on a bench, i dug out my kindle to pass the time. when i saw my mechanic push out my bike into the driveway, i knew it was ready. it ended up costing me $300, a bit more than i was expecting: $200 for the tire, $25 for the tube, and $44 for labor. first, i didn't even realize motorcycle tires require tubes. the mechanic actually told me my old tube was fine, and even asked if i wanted to keep it as a spare. the tire itself was slightly more expensive than the ones i saw online ($150).
if i had any reservations, they all went away when i rode the bike back home to cambridge. the difference was palpable: the wheel didn't feel squishy (that could just be because of proper inflation) and it gripped the road much better than before.
back at home, i chatted with a contractor (alton) about the trench they dug by the condo construction on harris street. he said it was to feed the wires from the utility pole underground to the electric meter of the house. while all the workers were off to lunch, he had to stay behind to make sure nobody fell in the hole. they were waiting for the electrician who was supposed to come today but was running late. we got to talking about the lack of parking spaces and bikes. i meant bicycles but alton was talking about motorcycles, especially giving girls rides and stopping short. he also said i might get lucky and maybe some honeys will move into these brand new condos (the sort of people who can afford these condos are probably not honeys though). finally, he revealed that he lost his driver's license but still drive on occasion even though he doesn't like it ("i get my girlfriend to drive me," he confessed).
it was 2:00. i hadn't had breakfast or lunch but i wasn't particularly hungry. i even wanted to try and make a trip down to haymarket but when i asked my mother if they needed anything, they said no, so i didn't go. i ended up having a simple cream cheese and bagel sandwich just to eat something.
with the motorcycle fixed and the camera lens pending, all that was left was the bicycle. i was still debating whether to spend the money and get myself a cheap pneumatic wrench ($20-30) to remove the bottom bracket, but finally figured it was better to just simply get it fixed. besides, i figured it'd cost me $25-35.
it felt weird not having my telephoto lens. whether i use it or not, i usually bring it along when i go out, just in case there's something interesting to shoot. the closest thing i had to a telephoto was my 28-105mm, which i ended up attaching to my camera.
so first i went to market basket to get a few more grocery items, figuring my bike might be in the shop for days and better to stock up now. then i stopped by park sales bike shop. before the cantankerous owner would even look at my bike, he first angrily chewed me out for not having my chains properly lubricated. finally he broke down the cost: $20 for labor (kind of pricey, considering it took the motorcycle mechanic an hour to replace my rear tire and that was only $44), and $20-35 for a new bottom bracket. so basically $50. the cost didn't sit right with me, but since i was already there, i decided to go through with it. he told me he'd try to have it ready by tomorrow afternoon; i told him no rush, and that monday would be okay.
after a quick stop at rite aid to get some altoids (2/$3), i walked back home. after dropping off my stuff, i went across the street to star market to pick up a box of clementines ($5). as soon as i got back home, my phone rang. it was park sales: my bike was ready!
so i walked back to the bike shop (about 15 minutes). just then my father called me. he asked if i could visit the harvard vanguard clinic on cambridge street to pick up some high blood pressure medication for my great uncle. so after i picked up my bike, i rode to the clinic. it was a good thing i didn't consider taking the motorcycle, because there was road construction nearby, and for some reason they didn't post a police officer on the top of the street, so there was a log jam of cars stuck behind a dead end of construction vehicles.
i went to the cafe cutting across harvard campus and cambridge common. the bike with brand new bottom bracket operated like butter. the young bike mechanic at the store showed me my old bracket, which was pretty much worn to a nub. i asked if i could keep the part and he said it was useless and tossed it back into the trash (i wanted it for sentimental reasons; i didn't pursue the matter since it was covered in dirty grease). my shifter still sticks at 4 but that's a problem i may be able to fix myself one day when i replaced the rear derailleur assembly.
at the cafe, my father gave me the radio shack splitter so i could return it. the one i got yesterday from home depot cost only $10, while this radio shack splitter sold for $21. granted, it's rated slightly better (5MHz-3GHz, compared to the home depot one which is 5MHz-2.5GHz) but it's still not worth 2x the price. my father also gave me a silver quarter he came across (US quarters before 1965 contains 90% silver, 10% copper).
it was already dark by the time i returned home for the last time of the day (5:00). i snacked on some baby carrots with an awful southwest ranch dressing dip. for dinner, another salmon bagel sandwich. i ended up skyping alex wong for about an hour. he told me they were expecting their 2nd child, due in march. drew was off seeing a pittsburgh friend and didn't get back home until 11:30, upon which he immediately marched off to bed.