i've been trying to get my hands on a canon-refurbished 60D camera with 18-200mm lens kit since september. unfortunately i took too long to decide and when i finally did, they were all out of stock. but knowing how canon operates, i knew they'd have some additional sales later in the year; the trick was to wait. so i would check the canon store daily to see if the price had dropped.

in early november they had the kit in stock again; sadly, the price was now $1399, but with a "special" $100 discount making the final price to be $1299, which was still $400 more than when it was on sale back in september. the price dropped again, to $1119 without any discounts. even though it was almost $200 less than the previous price, it still wasn't enough for me to bite.

when i woke up this morning and checked the canon store, it was the event i've been waiting for: courtesy of a thanksgiving-black friday sale, the EOS 60D with 18-200mm lens kit had dropped to an all-time low of $839.40. i almost couldn't contain my excitement as i quickly added it to my cart and paid for it.

$839.40 is a real bargain, given that priced separately a refurbished EOS 60D camera costs $600 while the refurbished EF-S 18-200mm lens goes for $560. priced brand new, the 60D sells at $800 and the 18-200mm goes for about the same at $570 (amazon prices). going with a refurbished kit, i save more than $500, money that can be better spent on other camera equipment. one thing i didn't like was i had to pay an additional $50 in taxes. but even with taxes included, it's still a bargain.

i had some slight hesitation about purchasing expensive refurbished equipment, but canon-refurbished items are well known in the camera community for their high quality, and for some photographers (like myself!), it's the only way they can justify buying an otherwise even pricier piece of equipment. it only comes with a 90 day warranty, but in the unlikely event of equipment failure, i expect it to happen sooner rather than later.

the canon EOS 60D was introduced in august 2010, more than 2 years ago, so it's about to reach the end of it's model life expectancy. canon will probably introduce the next version (70D) in 2013 (many people actually expected to see the 70D this year). it will probably have all sorts of bells and whistles, but it will also be expensive, something i couldn't afford. the 60D is a good upgrade for me, given that i'm stepping up from a canon EOS 350D circa 2006. i'm looking forward to the brighter viewfinder, articulating LCD, better focus, and faster shutter speed. the only thing i don't like is that it's slightly bigger and heavier. the camera i have now is already heavy enough, so i'm not looking forward to the additional weight. my shoulders are already protesting in anticipation.

then there's the EF-S 18-200mm lens. i've read a bunch of reviews, most of them good, but i've also seen a few bad ones. one problem with EF-S lenses is they can only be used on a crop-frame camera. if one day i decide to upgrade to full-frame, i won't be able to use this lens. fortunately, the price of a full-frame DSLR is so prohibitively expensive, the danger of that ever happening is remote. all the lenses i currently own are EF-S with the exception of the EF 70-300mm telephoto lens (currently enroute to jersey). the most attractive thing about the 18-200mm and the only reason why i'm getting it is the range. it can go from wide angle to telephoto, and would make a good walking-around lens. plus, i think it'd be excellent for parades. for me to simulate the coverage of the 18-200mm with my current lenses, i'd have to switch from my 17-50mm lens to my 70-300mm lens, and even then there's a whole 50-70mm gap i'm missing.

of course there are always drawbacks in these all-in-one lenses: what it makes up for in overall range, it lacks in the clarity department. but out of all the all-in-one lenses out on the market, the canon seems to have the sharpest images. there's also the tamron 18-270mm lens, which has an even farther zoom, but i don't believe it's as crisp as the canon, and image clarity is one of the most important criteria when i choose lenses. besides, even with a current $100 rebate, the tamron 18-270mm is still $550, more expensive than the reduced price of the canon 18-200mm i get through the kit.

all my boring camera talk, i still haven't forgotten that today is thanksgiving. i was surprised to see so many cars parked on my street. i figured a lot of people would be traveling elsewhere but apparently everyone decided to stay in cambridge. i could've made it to belmont earlier than i did, but i was recharging batteries and it ended up taking much longer than i anticipated. i watched the macy's thanksgiving day parade while i waited and i didn't leave my house until after 12:30.

mass avenue was desolate, with nary a car or pedestrian. the streets were quiet, a welcomed change. in my bag i was carrying 5lb. worth of mussels mixed with ice cubes to keep them alive.

my father came home from the cafe sometime after 1:00 with the turkey soaked in brine. we rearranged the furniture in the sun room before putting the 20lb. turkey into the oven at 2:00. i didn't have to do any cleaning, maybe a bit of additional vacuuming and that was it. i was happy to just lounge around watching football and waiting for everyone to get here by 5:00. my sister came home around 3:30 along with my 2nd aunt. she tripped on the steps coming into the house and through some miracle managed not to spill any of the food she was carrying. she scraped some knuckles, but being a hypochondriac, she made it sound worse than it was.

lili and matthew arrived a bit before 5:00, while bin bin and zhiliang showed up a bit afterwards. my father left to go pick up my great uncle and 2nd uncle from the cafe. my mother ended up taking out the turkey from the oven and setting it in the dining area.

with my godmother deciding to host her own thanksgiving this year, that meant there was only 11 guests (including myself) for thanksgiving (compared to last year, where we had 15 people). i would've liked to have seen the godkids, especially weiwei, so we could chat photography.

when i finally sat down to eat, i ate 4-5 turkey rollups, which is a lot, given that i'm usually full after the 2nd one. my father took home my great uncle early. for dessert we had flan and ximilou.

my aunt lili also brought her old film camera equipment. she wanted to know if she could upgrade to digital SLR. she had a pentax film camera with 2 sigma lenses (UC zoom 28-70mm and 70-210mm) and a nikon film camera with a nikkor AF 35-135mm lens. if she couldn't upgrade, she wanted to know if she could sell her equipment. the sigma lenses are well-worn and not worth much, but the nikon nikkor lens still looks to be in good shape and a quick search on amazon revealed even a used lens sells for $170.

i stuck around a bit longer to watch the patriots-jets game after everyone left. 5 minutes into the 2nd quarter, new england managed to score three touchdowns in under a minute. it was like an early christmas for patriots fan, with the jets offering a special black friday sale on points. the score at the half was 35-3, with new york completing a field goal (for 3 points) to end the quarter and serenaded off the field by a chorus of boos.

i returned home during halftime. it was another cold and moist night, condensation on everything. i wiped as much of it off with the sleeves of my jacket but i still sat on a wet seat. i noticed something different with the motorcycle: it doesn't sputter anymore when i ride the bike in too high a gear going at too slow a speed. i usually feel it when turning up on a hill, but i didn't experience it tonight. the engine felt smooth, if that's even possible. could it be the enzyme fuel treatment in action? if it is this product is pretty amazing, best $8 i ever spent.

because i needed to use the bathroom but didn't want to miss the start of the 3rd quarter, i used a strategically-positioned mirror balanced on a barstool so i could still see the tv. oh the things you can do when you live alone! (i've actually done this before.)