i was going to do some cement work today, which i've never done before, but after reading some techniques online, it didn't seem that hard. but first i needed something to mix the cement in. so i went down to the dollar store to look for something suitable. at first i was going to use a deep aluminum foil pan (the kind you use to cook turkeys) but then i found a plastic tub that was even better.

coming back, i saw a jogger calling my name and waving to me. turns out it was my old high school classmate dana who used to live in the neighborhood but moved away a few years ago. she happened to be nearby and decided to go for a run (she was a track athlete back at school). we chatted briefly, she said she recently got together with anna and amy (names i haven't heard in a while) before our class reunion last month (i knew about it vaguely but wasn't interested in going). the thing i couldn't get over was how old dana looked, with deep wrinkles on her face, like she was 20 years older. having kids will do that to you, but to that extent? perhaps the secret to looking young is staying single as long as possible.

the cement mix i got was a small bucket of 10 lbs. quikrete quick-setting cement ($6.97), good for broken corners and edges, which was exactly my case. the instruction said to mix 1 part water with 5 parts cement mix powder, so i added 2-1/2 cups of cement to 1/2 cup of water. i was careful not to get any of it on my hands or even breathe in the dust after reading about the real dangers of cement burn (highly alkaline) which i never knew.

i started mixing, but the 5:1 cement to water ratio didn't seem like enough, and the mixture still looked awfully dry. i looked for photos online of what it's supposed to look like (cookie dough consistency was one answer) and even called my father for advice. i even tried applying the mix but it was still mostly dry powder at that point, so i continued to slowly add more water, until i probably added another 1/2 cup at least, all the while mixing. i'm glad i got the plastic bin because the aluminum foil tray would've been torn up by that point from all the scraping.

once i had the cement mixed to a acceptable consistency (it was probably still on the dry side, but good enough to work with), i went back to applying the mix to the broken step. the instruction called for cleaning the area (which i did) but also to rough it up so the cement can hold better (i didn't do that). it was actually pretty easy and fun, like putting frosting on a cake (which i've never done before either, but that's how i imagine it'd go). the first layer was in clumps, but the subsequent layer i could smooth down.

the layering took about 10 minutes and i used up all the cement, i should've mixed a little more so i could cover the entire step instead of just the broken area. i closed the door to examine the gap, there's still a small amount, but nothing a rat or a squirrel could fit through (though maybe a mouse), and definitely a lot better than before. after admiring my work one last time, i rinsed off the trowel and wrote my upstairs neighbors to let them know what i'd done and to be careful about stepping on the repair for the next 2 days if they go in the basement.

the rest of the day was spent waiting for li's canon T6s to arrive, which he had sent to the house, which in hindsight he should've sent it to the cafe. it came last night but nobody was home so the UPS driver decided to try delivering it again today. i felt like a hostage all day, couldn't go anywhere, even afraid of using the bathroom for fear of not hearing any knocking on the door.

finally by 6:13pm i heard a knocking. i quickly raced to open the door, where i saw the package on the doorstep but the UPS delivery person walking away. "do i have to sign anything?" i asked, and that's when he remembered and came back to get my signature. if he was going to leave it with nobody home, then that meant i didn't have to be here and waste my entire day.

li came home late in the evening and cooked up some noodles. midway through his dinner he suddenly remembered his new camera and opened the box. the battery however wasn't charged (is this something new they're doing with lithium ion batteries?) so we had to wait about half an hour to get some juice in the battery. that was something we noticed right away and that i'd already read about: these new STM lenses are great for videography because they're completely silent when focusing, but their own weakness is you can manually focus when there's no power because the focus mechanism is entirely electronic; turning the focus ring doesn't do anything when the lens has no power.

around 8:30pm the battery finally enough charge to use the camera. i don't often get a chance to play around with cameras other than my own so i welcomed the opportunity. the most obvious feature of the T6s that's missing from my own 60D is the touch screen. li instinctively used it before i did, which is telling, because i come from a generation when screens were meant to be seen and not touched. it didn't make a difference in adjusting the settings (where i'm used to buttons and dials) but it does make a difference in browsing photos, swiping and pinching to advance and zoom. having never had a dSLR with a touchscreen, i don't know how much i'd use it, but it's an interesting perk. the lens was completely silent as advertised, and the T6s itself has different focusing options, and seems to focus much faster and more accuracy compared to my 60D. the best seems to be the autofocus, which amazingly quick and never hunts to find a place to focus. in fact, it seems to focus everywhere nearly instantaneously, that would be one of my main reasons to ever upgrading my 60D. the T6s has a smaller LCD screen on the top of the camera just like the 60D, but it's smaller and displays just the rudimentary info.

li left the camera in the living room when he went to bed and i played around with it some more. the T6s also shoots slightly bigger photos, so much so that my media pro photo catalog program had a hard time opening up the images without a noticeable delay (i may need to upgrade the app).