li came by a bit before 11am so i could take him to the pride parade, something he'd never seen before. as a seasoned parade goer, i handed him some spray-on sunscreen as he was going to need it since we'll be out in the sun for hours. he recently came back from a trip to arizona and after just being outside 15 minutes he was completely tanned. the smell of sunscreen is one of the official smells of summer. li also took the chance to borrow my standing pump to inflate his tires; he has a small hand pump that takes forever and his office used to have a larger pump until it went missing.
it was a good day for a parade, with temperature climbing into the 80's, and plenty of sunshine. but as any photographers know, a sunny day is not actually the best condition for shooting as people's faces get obscured in the harsh shadows. but a sunny day beats a rainy day, at least when it comes to overall parade enjoyment. i wore my primark shorts and a white polo shirt.
we left by 11am and got to copley square by 11:30am. along the route we saw many businesses flying rainbow flags. there was a bit of congestion on clarendon heading into the square, but once we crossed newbury the car traffic was all blocked off and we had the streets to ourselves and pedestrians.
we parked our bicycles on the crest of clarendon street (clarendon and columbus), then walked back down to copley square to check out the parade preparations. we then returned to our station, standing outside of the avis car rental where there was shade. the parade started a bit late which was surprising, the pride parade is one of the most punctual events. li took photos of everything, while i could pick and choose since i've seen a lot of it all before.
this year it seemed it was mostly special interests. this has been going on for a while, but i've really noticed it today. banks, pharmacies, department stores, biotech firms, insurance companies, politicians, the list goes on and on. pretty much anyone who wanted to join probably could as long as they paid the fee. in fact, afterwards i heard this was the largest pride parade in boston's history, with over 300 organizations participating. the pride parade has been hijacked by corporate and special interests, and now more than ever it just seems like a big advertising opportunity, to show people, "hey, we're progressive, we stand with LGBT, but while we have your attention, would you like to buy some of our stuff?" and sure, i like free swag as much as the next guy, but the original message of the parade is very much muddled. they should just rename it "diversity parade" or something, since as li noted, "there's not a lot of gay stuff." actually, there was more queer presence on the sidelines, amongst the spectators, than there were actually marching the parade. and the demographics skewed young, which i suppose is a good thing, or maybe this was just a good way to spent a saturday.
it was already 2:30pm and the parade seemed like it wasn't going to stop anytime soon. i'd taken enough photos at that point, and seem enough to call it quits. li had already gone to the sidelines, sitting on a wall, tired from too much standing. sitting by the wall is actually not a bad way to watch the parade, and the people watching is spectacular. i suggested we break and head down to chinatown for a late lunch.
one of the best things about the pride parade is how much of the city gets shut down. it sucks if you're driving, but heaven for cyclists, as normally crowded streets are empty of traffic and you can bike free.
maybe i was too hungry (my stomach kept grumbling), but i was lacking food imagination. if not dim sum, then the only other option i can think of is vietnamese pho. li, no stranger to boston chinatown, knew of a cheap place to get "three treasure rice," which seems to be his favorite. quic pic BBQ (肥仔烧腊, 50 beach street) was actually in the heart of chinatown, nestled between the dumpling place that's always crowded and the live chicken slaughterhouse. i'd never been here before, a small shop with about 20 closely packed seats. the butcher working the front of the restaurant also doubled as the order taker when the cashier wasn't around. they were cantonese but could speak some mandarin. i got the 3 treasure combo but with rice noodles instead of rice ($8.75), with chashao pork, duck, and crispy skin pork as my three meat selection. the cashier actually brought our order to the table. mine came in a tall quart size foam container. because all the meats were on top, it was hard to get to the noodles. li's rice order came with a bowl of soup (mine didn't, figuring the soup already has broth). it was actually very good, or maybe i was just hungry.
afterwards we walked to jiaohe supermarket. since he had already gone grocery shopping recently, li said this was the least amount he'd ever purchased on a chinatown supermarket trip.
returning home, the easiest way was over the fieldler footbridge off of arlington street. to get there however, we had to cross the parade route, which was still going strong despite it being almost 4pm. but on bikes it was easier to get around, as long as you avoid the crowds. we finally found a gap at charles and beacon street.
with such a nice day out, even the banks of the charles river was crowded with people enjoying the weather. we crossed over into cambridge on the mass ave bridge. i got back to my place around 4:30pm, li continuing to his apartment. after a change of clothes, i was back out again, this time on the motorcycle to belmont, arriving around 5pm.
we tested our two old dehumidifiers, both de'longhi brands, to see how much electricity it used compared to the TCL. surprisingly, both consumed just 350-400W of power, compared to the TCL which uses 550-600W. at first my father thought the difference wasn't that great, but i managed to convince him that over time it'd cost us too much to operate this TCL dehumidifier. to add insult to injury, it was supposedly an energy star model, yet it consumed more electricity than our old dehumidifiers. finally i showed him how it was cheaper online and no mention of being energy star certified. we discovered both de'longhi models were energy star rated as well. one of them is clearly busted, the humidity readout is way off (thinks its 20% humidity when it's actually more like 50%). the other one still works but the pump might be broken. so now it seems like we are definitely returning the TCL and getting a different one.
i didn't stay too long in belmont, as my aunt invited us to her house in arlington so my parents could help her make some chinese dumplings for dinner. we left belmont around 5:30pm.
i got a chance to see my aunt's landscaped backyard; i'd only seen it in the fall. it would've been better to see it during peak spring, when the prairifire crabapple and pink dogwoods were in bloom. their sourwood was doing very well, much better than our bareroot specimen, which hasn't even sprouted any leaves yet and may be dead (though my father said he noticed tiny buds forming at the base of our tree).
my parents didn't think there was enough dough so my mother said we should stuff each dumpling with as much filling as we can. both matthew and my aunt wanted to learn, but my parents said it was easier (and quicker) if they made the dumplings. matthew did get to make some dumplings when he demonstrated his technique and my mother said they were okay. the trick to make a proper dumpling is to seal them so there are no gaps, otherwise the dumpling will fall apart when you boil them.
we ended up eating outside. my aunt is deathly afraid of mosquitoes but earlier matthew had sprinkled these natural citronella-infused pellets all over the garden that supposedly ward off mosquitoes.