annie was still at home this morning when my father came by around 10am to drop off some stray goldenrods i'd dug up yesterday from my parents' backyard. i went with him to harbor freight to pick up a large dolly to move the old commercial refrigerator once the new one gets delivered sometime this week. before we left, he showed me a photo of the lotus barrel he took this morning. at first i didn't understand what i was looking at, it looked like he put some chickenwire mesh over the barrel. i also noticed that the barrel was all muddy. then he told me what happened: a bird must've fallen in the barrel while trying to drink some water, and in its thrashing struggle to get free, it knocked over all the submerged pots, uprooting both lotus seedlings. my father replanted the large seedling, but he said the smaller seedling probably won't surprise because all the stalks had been detached from the seed.

so all that hard work of nurturing two lotus seedlings undone by some critter getting into the water barrel. in hindsight it was just a matter of time, as birds are used to the many water baths i've placed around the backyard specifically to attract them. fortunately a new set of lotus seeds are scheduled to arrive on thursday, but it'll take two weeks before they're at the coin leaf stage. yesterday my prized avocado plant, today my prized lotuses. all the squirrels and birds be damned!

we ended up getting two wooden large 30x18" wooden dollies at $16 each. they also had plastic ones of similar size and load capacity (1000 lbs.) but we figured it'd be easier to fix the wooden ones should they ever break. my father used a 20% off-one-item coupon, while i used a coupon myself to get a pair of 12" groove joint pliers ($8 after discount). coming back, we stopped at market basket to pick up a few things (i got some toilet paper, a jar of barilla pasta sauce, and a rotisserie chicken).

annie wasn't home. later i checked my wechat and saw she actually sent me a message around 10:20am, said she was going to the office, and would be back by the afternoon.

i got the bad news when i was in the bathroom checking my e-mail. when i saw the message from canon factory service i thought it was to tell me the camera had been fixed and was on its way back, but i noticed it was another repair estimate. that can't be good. i opened up the pdf and quickly scanned the invoice. it didn't say what needed to be fixed, but the labor cost went up to $269 while the parts was a whopping $311, for a total of $615 including shipping. i think i laughed. at that price, i could just buy a refurbished camera from canon.

it goes without saying that i lost my appetite, even though i started on the rotisserie chicken. i decided to call the canon upgrade program, which is a special discount service they provide to equipment repair customers. the woman i spoke with was very helpful, told me a new canon 80D body (an upgrade from the 60D) would cost $754, while a refurbished 80D would be $647.28. a refurbished 80D with an 18-55mm lens would cost $683.28. a refurbished 70D with the 18-135mm lens was $971.28, while a refurbed 77D with the 18-55mm was $576.18 ($467.99 for body only). i asked if they had a lot in stock (she said yes), thanked her for the info, and said i'd think about it.

i then called canon factory service to ask what exactly needed to be repaired. i was put on hold for several minutes but eventually i got somebody in the line. he said the original repair - $273 - was for the shutter assembly ($46 parts, $209 labor). but when the technician opened up the camera, he discovered the mirror box needed to be replaced as well, bumping the total parts cost to $311.

i needed something to clear my head so i decided to take the goldenrods down to the community garden and plant them in my plot. i didn't need to be in the garden otherwise, since it was going to rain later today. there'd also been reports of people stealing things from the garden, but nothing was taken from mine (nobody wanted any miniature tomatoes and peppers).

i called my father to get his advice on the camera, as i often do before making any big purchases. and here i thought $273 to replace the shutter assembly was costly, and now i was about to pay close to $700 for a new refurbished camera body. i think by then i'd already made up my mind, but i just needed to tell someone, in case i was making the wrong decision.

so i called up canon upgrade program again. i got a few more prices. a refurb 80D with the 18-135mm USM lens costs $863.28. that's a good videography lens, but an additional $220 wasn't worth it. when i asked for the refurb 80D body alone, the woman on the phone said they didn't have anymore available. oh no, did i wait too long? but i was looking at the canon refurbished equipment website, and they still had it in stock for $719. she said she was looking at the same thing, but after a refresh, she saw what i was seeing. so the upgrade discount for refurbed equipment is apparently an extra 10% off, not a lot, but any little bit helps. the final cost was $687.74 after $40.46 for taxes, with free shipping. i also asked about the warranty, which is 1 year for a refurbished, same as a new camera. as for my old 60D camera, i thought maybe they'd keep it as a condition of the upgrade, but she said they could also send it back, apparently for free as well.

so that was that. at 1:53pm on a rainy tuesday afternoon i bought a refurbished canon EOS 80D for around $700 (a brand new 80D body goes for $900). that's not even including the $143 i paid to have my 18-200mm lens repaired, which as of now is still getting fixed (lens repairs are a flat rate, so hopefully no additional repair estimates). just like that, without even planning on it, i spent nearly a grand on camera equipment. the rest of the afternoon i was reading up on the 80D. i'd already done some research a while ago, when i was playing hypothetical and wondering what camera i would get should i ever need to upgrade. full-frame bodies are intriguing, but i have too many EF-S lenses, which aren't compatible with full-frames. likewise with mirrorless, i like the smaller size, but i have too much invested in EF-S/ES lenses. canon makes lens adaptors, but native lenses are always better than adapted ones. the can M50 mirrorless is very interesting, but that's something for the future.

the 70D was a potential candidate and for some reason they cost more online than the 80D, so i was wondering if it was one of those cases where an older model (introduced july 2013) was better than the newer model. or it could just be a case where the 70D is simply more expensive because canon no longer makes them so they're harder to come by. i compared the specs and there was no reason not to choose the 80D over the 70D.

the 80D is not that new, having been introduced back in february 2016, more than 3 years ago. but still 2 versions newer than my old 60D, which came out august 2010, nearly 9 years. the 80D has a higher resolution (24 megapixels vs 18 megapixels), a touchscreen LCD, more cross-type focus points (45 versus 9), faster shutter speed (7 fps versus 5.3 fps), and higher ISO value (25,600 versus 12,800). the 80D also has two custom exposure presets, which isn't critical but definitely a nice perk. it has a mode selection dial that can turn a full 360° and dedicated photo/video toggle switch. the 80D can also do time-lapse video captures and it has NFC and wifi connectivity. good thing is it still uses the same battery as the 60D, so i save a few dollars.

the 80D shares a lot of features with the canon rebel T6s (february 2015), which i have some experience with, as it was the camera i recommended li to buy back in october 2017. i really liked the T6s when i had a chance to play with it, and it blew away my 60D on almost everything. but the 80D is still slightly better: more cross-type focus points (45 verus 19), dedicated AF-ON button, clearer viewfinder, faster shutter speed (7 fps versus 5 fps), dust/water resistance, and custom exposure presets. nevertheless, if i were to recommend a beginner canon DSLR, i'd pick T6s.

the 80D is my 4th DSLR since january 2006, when i first got the rebel XT. that was followed by the 60D (november 2012, black friday purchase), then another 60D (after i lost the first one in western sichuan summer 2014), and now an 80D. it seems like every 6 years or so i upgrade my DSLR, so i was due for a replacement. since that first rebel camera i've also purchased two panasonic lumix point & shoot cameras, a fuji 3D camera (may 2013), and an SJCAM SJ4000 action camera (july 2015).

i also discovered that i may be able to repair the canon 60D on my own. getting a refurbished/used/new mirror box and shutter assembly costs anywhere from $100-180 off of ebay. and there are very detailed teardown videos of the 60D on youtube (courtesy of robert hosea). it's daunting, but i've opened up cameras before to fix them, so i do have some experience, and i have nothing to lose since the 60D is non-operational anyway. if i can get refurbished parts for $100, it'd be worth trying to salvage the 60D, and much cheaper to fix it myself than pay $600 for canon to do it. then i can go around shooting photos with two DSLR's, like those pros i see, one camera with a telephoto, the other a wide angle lens.

by 5:50pm canon sent me a message that the camera had already been shipped out along with a fedex tracking number. it's scheduled to arrive sometime thursday (same day as my lotus seeds).

though it was raining today, we still managed to make double digit production, which is all i can ask for.

annie came home at 4:20pm, she wasn't kidding when she said she'd be back in the afternoon. she immediately made dinner, but later in the evening she tried to make some ice cream. "what's the point?" i asked her, and told her she could get a pint of haagen-dazs ice cream at market basket for just $2.99. as for me, i turned the rest of my rotisserie chicken into a broth and had a bowl of rice noodles for dinner.