i heard marco and txema leave the house this morning at 5:30 to catch the 6:30 chinatown bus leaving boston for new york city. txema looked to be in bad shape last night, over-tired, and went to bed without dinner, so i was worried he wouldn't be able to make it, but was relieved to see him gone.

i had to wake up early myself, meeting dennis outside his house to assistant him with some photography at harvard university. the event was biomod 2011, the international bio-molecular design competition. 21 undergraduate teams from all over the world converge to give talks for the competition. it was taking place at jefferson physical laboratory. although close enough to walk, dennis elected to drive because he had some heavy equipment (tripods) to carry.

dennis was given a list of target shots; the most important one was to get a group photo of all the participants. we arrived early to scope out a suitable location. even the widest outdoor staircase could only fit about 80 people; we were told there would be possibly 120 students. when we finally took a peek at the attendants in the conference room, it looked like there was even more people. the staircase was out; the next best option was a set of grassy tiered walls behind the science building.

dennis asked me to take some secondary photos. he brought a spare nikon camera but said i could use my own (a canon), provided i shoot in raw format. he also asked that i shoot in ISO 200, and gave me a small diffuser (which he called a strobe) for my built-in flash.

dennis also had to get photos of the participants as they were giving their presentation. i was in the back of the lecture hall, plundering the endless supply of free soft drinks and juices. projected on a side wall was a large countdown clock of the number of minutes left in the presentation. almost all the talks were about DNA origami, with creative group names like "DeoxyriboNucleicAwesome" and "Origamizer-San." the whole event had a very science fair feel to it, except the projects they were working on were pretty advanced, the cutting edge of DNA manipulation. participants also had to create a wiki page about their project and a corresponding video.

everyone was corralled to grassy tiered walls before lunch for the group photo. by then susan had shown up to help with the setup. the location wasn't ideal - with the noontime sun shining directly into the camera lens - but it'd have to do. dennis got up on a ladder with his 10-feet tall tripod while i balanced myself on a heavy outdoor cafe table, holding a white light reflector overhead to block out some of the sun. some of the participants were shouting out directions to get me to hold the reflector at a better angle. after dennis got the money shot, everyone left to go eat.

we ended up getting some lunch as well after everyone else were already served. when it comes to catering, apparently harvard doesn't skimp: brie cheese balls, wild greens salad with goat cheese, boneless chicken breast with pomegranate and wild rice, squash raviolis, and oven-fresh apple bake. i would've gone for seconds except dennis wanted to get some shots of the various groups as they were making their way back to the lecture hall.

i stuck around until the last coffee break around 3:30. i wasn't there to see award ceremony happening later, but there seemed to be enough prizes that most groups got an honorable mention in some category.

arriving in belmont, i found my mother about to knit another thorpe, this time using my revised color scheme. in the backyard i collected some dried nasturtium seeds in the raised beds (to be planted for next season).

back in cambridge, i wondered how marco and txema were doing in new york city. if they were to make it back to boston in time for the subway, they'd be on the fungwah bus by that point. they returned home around 11:30.