li texted me at 10:30am concerned with the falling snow and asking if we could take public transportation instead of riding our bikes. i agreed, and was going to suggest that when he was scheduled to arrive at 12pm. instead we decided to meet at harvard square. after some granola yogurt for breakfast, i left, arriving early at 11:50am since i had the shorter walk. li arrived at noon. he said he left at 11:30am, but stopped by his office first to pick up his camera. we were there just in time to catch the 12:05pm dudley 1 bus leaving harvard square.
we were heading into copley square to catch the speedo santa run at 1pm on the same day as the first snowstorm of the season. the snow was on the heavier side and you needed an umbrella to not get wet. we got off at hynes convention center and walked to copley square. li had already been through a partial new england winter when he arrived back in february, but a snowy winter was still a novelty to him.
we stood on the southeast corner of dartmouth and boylston, waiting for the run to begin. the one cop directing traffic at the barricade did a poor job, allowing cars to turn down boylston despite pedestrians crossing at the light. one fellow cop made a comment which the first cop simply ignored.
the speedo santa run goes by fast, as it should, since the runners are in their underwear running in the cold. from the moment we saw the first runners on boylston to see them go by again on newbury only takes about 8 minutes total. maybe it was due to the bad weather, but this year there seemed to be a lot less participants, i counted just 60-80 runners (years past: 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2014 2015 2016). i helped li adjust his camera beforehand, setting his white balance, changing his ISO to 1600 and putting his focus to AI servo. i also quickly demonstrated pan shooting and told him the important of keeping his lens dry of water (otherwise there will be blurry water spots in the photos).
when the run started, it was just a flurry of shutter clicks. water and fog had gotten into my viewfinder so i could hardly see, but i knew my lens was dry so the photos would be okay. i'd also set my ISO to 1600 to increase my shutter speed because the sky was a dark grey overcast. it took all but just 2 minutes for the swarm of speedo santas to run by.
we quickly hurried across to newbury to catch them on their way back. about 2 minutes later, the first of the santas started showing up. 4 minutes later they were all gone. it was cold enough that my camera felt sluggish as the shutter struggled to keep pace with how fast i was firing off shots (i don't remember it happening last year when it was much colder, so cold that i had to bust out my columbia puffy winter jacket).
"what now?" i asked li, knowing already we were going to chinatown. we walked down commonwealth mall towards the public garden, then through boston common in the direction of chinatown.
there was a lot of photo ops, with trees coated in snow, and especially at night when all the christmas lights would be lit. i was almost tempted to come back around sunset, were it not for the miserable wet cold conditions. li kept complaining about how his fingers felt frozen, but that's just the price you pay being a photographer.
li was thinking hei la moon dim sum again, but he heard a rumor from a coworker that they stop serving dim sum at 2pm. we arrived in chinatown around 1:45pm, but went grocery shopping at jia ho supermarket first, which took 20 minutes. by the time we were done, it was already past 2pm. instead of risk going and finding out they weren't serving anymore, i suggested we try someplace else. that someplace was the chinatown cafe on harrison avenue. it's one of my favorite places in chinatown. though typically i go there for takeout, they also have places to eat, and i knew on a saturday afternoon it wouldn't be busy.
i ordered my usual R45 salt & pepper porkchops with rice, while li got the 3 treasure rice, which featured smoked duck, roasted crispy skin pork, and braised chicken. we got a booth and it was a cozy place to have lunch on a cold day. nearby was two young chinese families with children. li's food arrived first even though he ordered after me (his meats were already prepared); i grabbed his order for him since he was in the bathroom. i used the bathroom as well and came out just in time for my food to be ready.
eating at the cafe, it seems they give me even more porkchops than a typical takeout, as i stared at my porkchop mountain. li said there was a dearth of good chinese food around the harvard area; if there was a restaurant like chinatown cafe, he'd eat there everyday. i told him the problem was the high rents in cambridge, that for a place like chinatown cafe to survive they'd have to raise the prices on their food, but americans typically view chinese food as inexpensive. li told me once that it's not hard for a chinese person to survive in boston, with access to asian supermarkets and asian restaurants. the food portions were so large that neither li nor i could finish and we ended up taking the rest home for dinner.
from there it was a 12 minute walk to south station, where we caught the red line and 7 stops to harvard square. the subway was running a bit slow for some reason, maybe the snow on the tracks at charles station. whatever the case, it took us 17 minutes to get back to harvard. i suggested to li that he takes the bus back home, saving him the 20+ minutes of walking, and he had a choice of 4 different routes that all go by his place. as for me, i waited for the 73 to take me to belmont.
i found my father outside working on clearing snow from the cars, then later plowing the driveway and sidewalk with the large-size snowblower, before moving the honda into the garage. though it was messy, there didn't seem to be a lot of snow. there were reports as much as 7 inches, but i think the final accumulation in these here parts will be around 3 inches.
we had dinner early, around 4:30pm, as my father had to go back to my grand uncle's place to take care of him overnight. i wasn't very hungry since i ate just 2 hours ago, but i ate again anyway. we called my sister to come pick us up as her car was the only one with 4-wheel drive. she seemed reluctant even though she agreed earlier, and finally arrived close to 7pm, didn't even get out of her car, just called us from outside.
my sister dropped off my father first before dropping me off. since i was already dressed, i quickly shoveled the sidewalk when i got back. it didn't take long, the snow had a slushy consistency, with melts on the bottom that made it easy to scrape off the pavement. there was a misdelivered christmas card for my neighbor neil which i dropped off in his mailslot, narrowly missed slipping off their icy steps.