i woke up at 9am to get ready to go down to chinatown to watch the annual chinese new year lion dance. i went last year with sandy for the very first time and it was interesting enough that i wanted to go again this year. the added risk element of the coronavirus within the chinese community made it that much more exciting. kevin seemed to be still asleep but a minute after i was in the bathroom, i heard him wake up and then rattle the bathroom door. he could learn to be a little more considerate. knowing that he needed to use the bathroom gave me anxious constipation as i quickly vacated. i would have to hold it until i got back from chinatown. while he was in the bathroom i told him i was going out (didn't say where) and left.
i went to bed last night at 3am. i set the alarm for 8:30am, but my synchronized mi band started vibrating at 7:30am. there's some bug with the software where it always vibrated an hour before the alarm goes off, not sure why. when my phone alarm went off an hour later, i snoozed it to 9am. the lion dance didn't start until 10am, i still had plenty of time to make it to boston. temperature was in the upper 30's but supposed to reach the lower 40's later in the day. sunday morning there wasn't a lot of traffic. there seemed to be some cambridge/somerville road race taking place, and the closer i got to kendall square, the more runners i saw arriving for the event that starts at 10am.
every time i go out on a photo expedition, i have to think about what lenses to bring. i personally still love the 55-250mm EF-S telephoto, but it's no use when i'm close to my subjects. that's why i got packed my 10-22mm EF-S wide angle, for up-close work. in the past i would just bring my 18-200mm lens, which covers a wide range, but i've found it's not as sharp compared to my 55-250mm.
i arrived by 9:45am. i thought the ceremony had already started because i heard drumming, but it was just the different lion dance troupes practicing. the first thing i noticed after i parked my bike was how quiet and desolate chinatown had become. sure, they closed off the streets, but there didn't seem to be anyone, just a few handful of locals standing on the curb, waiting for the lion dance to begin. there was hardly any people. i was seriously beginning to think maybe the coronavirus had scared off a lot of spectators. but as we got closer to showdown, more people started showing up, both onlookers and performers. a large troupe of lion dancers marched into chinatown. i think roused by the commotion, more tourists began showing up as well. in the end, i estimate roughly the same number of people came today as there was last year.
i soon realized that my combination of telephoto and wide angle lens was a terrible match. i should've packed my 18-200mm lens. the telephoto was good for picking out subjects from a distance, but a lot of what i was doing was close-up work, trying to capture a large group of people, so i kept switching lenses. i must've switched over a dozen times, it was a real hassle. i also didn't realize how cloudy it was, and had my ISO set at automatic, which kept my ISO value between 100-400, resulting in slow shutter speed, resulting in very blurry lion dancing photos.
i was surprised i stayed so long, i didn't leave chinatown until 11:40am. i visited a few pastry shops before i left, getting a few things for my parents. some restaurants were closed - don't know if it was new year related, coronavirus related, or simply the store owners didn't want to deal with the hassle of paying off the lion dancers. the places that were opened were mostly packed with people, so the lion dance does bring a lot of business to chinatown.
because of boston's geography, it's hard for me to get back onto longfellow bridge from chinatown. the most direct route is charles street, but that's a one-way inbound. the other direct route involved traversing beacon hill, which as the name implies, involved climbing a hill which is not fun. the easiest way home is to cut through boston common and the public garden to get to the charles river bike path via fiedler footbridge. it's a little longer but timewise it's probably the same since i don't have to deal with traffic lights or car traffic. from there i get onto the mass ave bridge and get back to cambridge via MIT.
i got back home by 12:10pm. kevin was gone, which meant i could finally use the bathroom in peace. afterwards i took a shower, changed into some clean clothes, then left for belmont around 12:50pm.
my mother fixed me a bowl of rice porridge again. she had opened up the jar of sichuan paocai which had been fermenting for over a month. it had the perfect flavor - sour, spicy, salt - my mother said it was too sour, but i finished a whole bowl of paocai with my porridge. afterwards we tried some of the pastries i brought back.
a variety of birds were visiting the backyard feeders: cardinals,
song white-throated sparrows, juncos, house finches, mourning doves, chickadees. apart from the usuals, there were also a few new visitors. i saw a single male house sparrow. that made me worry, because normally they come in a large flock, but this one was by itself, or maybe it got lost and mixed in with a group of song white-throated sparrows. there was a mockingbird. i've seen them around the neighborhood, but this was the first time i saw one at the feeders. i tried the suet first, standing on top of the cage. it then perched on the squirrel buster. a mockingbird is kind of on the large side, and i was surprised its weight didn't close the feeder. it could hardly hang onto the perch, and left soon afterwards for a less demanding meal. finally, a nonbreeding male goldfinch visited the feeder. like the house sparrow, it was alone. in all the times i've had backyard birdfeeders, i don't think i ever seen a goldfinch come to feed. i thought they only ate niger seeds, which i've used before. hopefully this means come spring, we will get some goldfinches. better yet, if i do end up putting out a niger seed feeder, i'll probably be able to attract more goldfinches.
the whole day was basically waiting for the start of the superbowl game between the kansas city chiefs and the san francisco 49ers. i decided a few days ago that i'd be rooting for san francisco, jimmy g and all. also since the chiefs were the favorite to win, i prefer rooting for the underdogs. the game was close in the first half, which is good, keeps people in their seats, makes then want to watch the second half when the game ended in a tie by halftime. the game got really good at the start of the second half, when the 49ers ended up scoring 10 points while keeping the chiefs scoreless. if they could add another touchdown in the 4th quarter, the game would be over. but surprise! kansas city is a legit good team, and mahomes and company came back to take the lead. they were up by 11 points with a 1-1/2 minutes left in the game. san francisco still had a change of winning if they could somehow score a quick touchdown and got a defensive stop to score a 2nd touchdown. that longshot soon became an impossibility when kansas city intercepted a jimmy g pass for a pick six and ended up the game. i'm happy the chiefs won, it's been half a century since their last super bowl victory. 49ers are still a good team, they shouldn't feel bad about themselves, they have a good chance to come back again next season if they can manage to keep their core guys. san francisco had a chance to win, but kansas city was just playing at another level, especially in the 4th quarter. you can't be too down when your opponent plays lights out like that.