originally i was going to go to the run to remember event happening in boston, which was a tandem 5-miles race and half-marathon. it started at 7:00 in the morning though, and besides being really early (my alarm went off at 6:00), it was still wet and cold (lower 40's) outside, so i was able to quickly rationalize skipping the event.
i ended up sleeping for a full 10 hours, which is something i can do, being a man of very little responsibilities. it also helps that the night before i only slept for 3 hours.
i was however going to the somerville memorial day parade happening on highland avenue at 1:00. i hadn't been there in 4 years, when i took my then roommate british sophia to see an american parade. i was there for some camera practice, getting a feel for the 60D combined with the 18-200mm lens (which i've only had since this winter, so i haven't shot any parades with it), as well to use my new fuji 3D camera. it'd also be a chance for me to gauge how well my collarbone has healed, to see how i feel supporting the additional weight of camera equipment.
the ride up to highland avenue takes just 6 minutes via bicycle, but the keyword here is "up" as it involves ascending the infamous hills of somerville. we're not talking the hills of san francisco here, but it's definitely more hills than i'm normally used to. i made it a point to stand across the street from the picturesque armory. there was plenty of spaces along the sidewalk so i had a good area to work with no obstructed views.
shooting with the fuji W3 makes me better appreciate the canon dSLR. a point-and-shoot camera just can't compare to a single-lens reflex camera. some of things i found frustrating with the W3: slow to turn on (takes a few seconds, i ended up just leaving it on in my pocket just so i wouldn't have to wait for it to reboot, despite using up the battery); the 35mm just isn't wide enough (the panasonic lumix DMC-3D1 3D camera can go as wide as 25mm but that's only in 2D mode; 16:9 3D starts at 33mm) so it was hard to capture both action and background; i keep on covering up the righthand lens with my fingers. this being my 7th year using a dSLR camera, i've gotten used to the manual controls. sure, it's more complicated than a P&S camera, but the image quality is unmatched.
the somerville memorial parade supposedly is one of the largest one in the area. it has some of the fundamental elements of a good parade, that it should be a spectacle and should be fun, despite being a somber occasion (the honoring of war deads). there are the usual marching groups of soldiers and police, but there are also the historical re-enactors (from revolutionary era minutemen to present day 21st century soldiers), costumed cartoon characters (spiderman, darth vader, spongebob), acrobats, marching bands, clowns (why?), cheerleaders, and beauty pageant winners.
then there are the shriners with their little cars and fezzes, and their lightly offensive embrace of "oriental" (by that they mean middle eastern) culture. how the shriners are involved i don't know. going to memorial parades in belmont as a kid, i never recalled seeing any shriners. whatever the reason, now the shriners are the best part of the somerville memorial day parade. they must be a dying breed since all the members are old men and i don't think it's the kind of club young people join anymore (at least not ironically).
i shot mostly with the fuji W3, switching only to my dSLR if there was something especially photogenic that i wanted to capture with better resolution, or whenever there was a lull in the action and i could use my telephoto range to look down the parade route.
the fuji W3 exits out of continuous shooting mode when powering off the camera. i kind of wish it didn't, because that's the mode i like shooting in, despite downgrading the resolution. but the only reason why i'd use the W3 is to capture something in 3D, so i don't mind the reduced resolution. if i want a good photo, i have my dSLR for that. since i got the W3, i haven't really used my ZS20, even though i still take it with me.
the weather for the first half of the day was overcast and i even felt a few raindrops. by the end of the parade, the sky was clearing up and sunshine poking through the clouds. it felt like forever, but i finally got a chance to ride the motorcycle, heading towards belmont. my grandmother was already there to spend time with my mother. with the end of the rain, responsible neighbors were already out mowing their lawns.
my sister wanted to show off and was making dinner tonight. it wasn't something i was looking forward to. she insists on using the most expensive organic ingredients to create the most flavorless dishes. and if you say anything bad about the food, she takes it very personal. my mother warned her to get started early, but my didn't feel any particular rush. when she finally began cooking around 4:00, she yelled at my mother for forgetting to defrost the ground pork (so she wasn't able to make one of her dishes, rice-covered meatballs).
the every was finished, my sister complained about the soggy rice, which was the only thing she didn't make. if i can say just one good thing, it's that she managed to make a lot of dishes given what little time she had. but it's definitely more quantity over quality. she already doesn't cook with anything spicy (although both my mother and i love hot foods), and now doesn't cook with salt. i think we should all watch our sodium intake, but to leave out salt at the expensive of flavor is a culinary crime.
i motorcycled home. the temperature outside was a damp coldness but i kept warm by wrapping my legs tightly around the hot engine. with most people still away for the memorial day long weekend, parking wasn't an issue and i found my usual spot.
the exciting thing tonight was the close conjunction of three planets - mercury, venus, jupiter - shortly after sunset. from where i live in cambridge is not a good place for amateur astronomy because i can hardly get a good glimpse of the sky. the astronomical spectacle was happening on the northwest horizon, and i walked to the star market parking lot to see if i could see anything. i then walked down somerville avenue, since it was heading northwest. as the sky got darker, i began to see more stars, beginning with venus, followed by the 2 other planets forming a perfect triangle. i don't think i've ever seen mercury before, at least not knowingly. venus is pretty common because it's so bright and appears soon after sunset.