i woke up around 7:00, disturbed by the noises my upstairs neighbors were making in their kitchen. i figured i could wait it out, but the racket never ceased: stomping of the feet, grinding of the trash compactor, whining of the vacuum, gurgling of the sink, thumping of the fridge doors. from upstairs the party traveled downstairs into the basement, and then back upstairs again. sometime around 9:00 the music started blaring. ask me the name of someone i wish would die a premature death and i will gladly offer two. thus began my saturday morning.

alex skyped me from tokyo right when i was watching the latest episode of spartacus in the bathroom. that's just all sorts of wrong, but i 'fessed up right away. there was another earthquake in tokyo, epicentered in hokkaido with a magnitude of 6.9. since there was no death or destruction, it wasn't covered on any news network, and i finally found a mention of it on the reuters newswire.

today i'd get a chance to test out my new arkon bicycle handlebar mount with SBH camera adapter plate (CMP227). i wheeled my bicycle to the side of the house so i could work in peace. that's when i noticed the dripping. i looked up and was surprised by these large sheets of icicles clinging to the side of the house. i didn't realize where they were coming from at first, until i saw the rubber hose poking out from one of steve's windows, right where his ceiling was leaking. he'd fashioned some sort of siphon system to divert the roof leak water out of his house. it was actually kind of ingenious except he just let it drip out, not realizing it'd cake the house and (more importantly) one of my windows in solid ice. i wrote him an e-mail when i got back inside asking him to point the hose further out. his solution has a good chance of backfiring because eventually the water inside the hose will freeze, then the water will have no place else to go but back inside his house. i hope he understands enough of how ice works to find a different solution when he and paul leave for vacation on wednesday.

so i managed to secure the camera bike mount using the strips of rubber gripping material and some screws. the camera screws on however which way, but because the mount has an articulating ball joint, i can then move the camera into the proper position once it's secured. afterwards i can tighten the ring on the ball joint to lock it on place. it's a pretty simple but effective design, i'm surprised i haven't heard of it sooner. it's all plastic and rubber other than the 2 screws, but it seems sturdy enough to survive the elements (since i don't properly take care of my bike and just usually leave it outside).

so i recorded continuously my ride from my place to my parents' place. it was a 1080p MP4 video at 30fps. the total time was 16:33 and the file size was 2.3GB. the ZS20 (like many P&S digital cameras with video recording capabilities) has a maximum file size of 4GB, which i heard is about 25 minutes. i don't plan on making a habit of continuously recording videos on my bike. the movie size can be large, and there's a certain amount of vibration. the camera itself has its own optical image stabilizing, but that can only do so much when i'm riding on occasionally bumpy roads. i guess the perfect mount would be one that has some sort of dampening function as well. the video was okay, the sparse new england winter landscape didn't leave many interesting things to look at. since riding a bike generates its own winds, the built-in camera mic picks up audio that's pretty much all wind noise. i noticed the camera would occasionally try to refocus, there's probably a setting that i can turn this off. i didn't tighten the ball joint tight enough because over time the camera would begin to dip and point towards the ground. instead of stopping to fix the problem, i'd periodically adjust the camera if i saw it drooping. i don't know how much weight the mount can support, but there's no way i can attach my dSLR to it (nor would i want to). i think if you were to make bike videos a pretty regular thing, i'd ditch the digital camera and go with one of those HERO cameras. despite their tiny size, they take better videos than a P&S digital camera, with a much wider lens too (latest incarnation can shoot at 60fps 1080p f/2.8 170° FOV). because they're lighter, it'd also be easier to mount a HERO cam on a helmet, which would then be able to record what the rider "sees".

after some noodles for lunch, i went with my parents to get some groceries in chinatown. going to chinatown on a weekend is already a nightmare; going there the last weekend before chinese new year is the apocalypse. we lucked out though, because at least we found parking right across the street from ming's market (the parking is the main reason why my parents come here, despite the fact that ming's doesn't have very good selections). but it took my father more than 10 minutes to find a shopping cart outside because they were all in use. the place was packed. instead of pushing the cart we so valiantly acquired, we left it at one of the less busy parts of the store and came back to it frequently to load it with collected grocery items. things continued to get crazy at the checkout lines. all the registers were opened (about 9 i think) but even then that wasn't enough. the lines were so long, the front half of the store was all lines that snaked back into the aisles. and in the lawless land of chinatown, people cut all the time (although they pretend they don't know they're doing it). i even yelled at a guy for cutting, broke out in chinese not knowing if he understood. i seemed to be in a constant flustered state while everyone else seemed to be calm. i guess if you're from mainland china with a population of 2 billion people, crowds like this must be a baby's crowd.

back in belmont, i went into the backyard to upright all the things that were blown over from wednesday-thursday's strong winds. i had to reassemble one of the multi-pieced gutter downspout. i also turned the 2 compost bins, a bit easier to turn since i loosened it up last time.

i do get excited about seeing wildlife. it's like an ongoing scavenger hunt where the prize is witnessing something a little out of the ordinary. last summer i didn't do much naturing. if i find myself similarly occupationally displaced during the summertime, i vow to take better advantage of my free time by visiting more nature reservations. on that note, i saw a pair of cardinals as well as a red-tailed hawk.

the temperature has been so cold that it's managed to kill the rosemary plants we have growing out. the whole reason why i've been bringing rosemaries indoors during the winter is because i remembered they can't survive a cold winter. but we've had a series of mild winters so i forgot. besides, the rosemaries we have in the garden are the size of small shrubs, so i figured they'd be hardy enough to survive the winter, since they're too difficult to uproot anyway. but rosemaries are from the mediterranean! and nighttime temperatures in the teens or below is not mediterranean weather! so this is one of those lessons learned the hard way. not like i can't plant new rosemaries, but these ones i've had for a few years, so they have some sentimental value. who knows, maybe one or two could still survive. if they do die however, this could be a blessing in disguise, because they were getting a little crazy in size, so now we can reclaim their spots to grow other vegetables that don't require so much room.

though i've never considered the infamous honey badger a groundhog, i suppose that it is. in honor of groundhog honey badger day, nat geo wild was playing an all-day marathon of their classic honey badger documentary. honey badger just don't care! i hope this becomes a february tradition. one can never get tired of the exploits of the storied honey badger, from fighting with poisonous snakes, to miraculously recovering from their venom, to stealing honey while being swarmed by african killer bees. oh, and the digging!

my father was busy making a special dinner for liting, the daughter of a family friend who recently gave birth. apparently it's some kind of chinese tradition to deliver special food to the new mother. special like fish stew and kidney flowers, which are kidney slices cut in a particular way so they resemble "flowers". as soon as he finished around 5:00, he packaged everything up in an insulated food container and left for cambridge to deliver the care package.

after dinner i returned to cambridge. i went around the side of the house to check the status of the drip tube. steve had adjusted the rubber hose so it wasn't against the side of the house like it was this morning. only time will tell if it'll continue to cause an icy mess, but i think we're fine for now. until his tube freezes up completely.

i ended up taking a bath while reading the latest issue of entertainment weekly (the one with lena dunham on the cover). while carelessly balancing the magazine on the edge of the tub, i ended up dunking the whole issue underwater. fortunately i'd read most of it already, and finished the last remaining soggy pages.

video notes: this is my 4th video in the past few weeks. my strategy is stringing together a series of short 3 seconds clips. i don't know why i decided 3 seconds was the magic clip length. i usually film more than i need, about 10 seconds worth, so i can choose the best 3 seconds segment. of course this is kind of redundant if i'm shooting something that's not moving. speaking of which, i'm using 2 embedded photos in my movie. they're given a little more action with the soft panning ken burns effect, but i reduced their screen time to 1.5 seconds each. all my movies use a musical overlay on top of the actual audio. that's because the real audio is too noisy and not very good. makes me wish i had the zoom H1 external mic/recorder! the original soundtrack was the staples singers "when will we get paid," but then i ended up using the godzilla theme song. i also played around with just using sound effects, but i couldn't find any good cooking sounds that'd match the action. the font i'm using is gotham extralight size 36. all videos were shot using my canon 60D with the 18-200mm lens. originally i thought that lens was too unwieldy to use for videography, but i'm starting to get the hang of it. i have no qualms about shooting HD video with my ZS20, but the 60D has far better low light recording. it makes me seriously consider a faster (wider aperture) lens just for videos. i've got my eyes on the canon EF 28mm f/1.8 lens, or the sigma 30mm f/1.4. there's also the option of going with a manual fast lens, since when i shoot video on the 60D it's almost always manual focus because the auto focus is really slow to capture (about 3 seconds). the 3" LCD is a real help for focusing, but i like the 60D ability to zoom in so i can do some finer focus adjustments.