I finally placed the B&H order (for a replacement 200-500mm Tamron, a replacement Hakuba tripod, the Canon 17-85mm lens, a battery grip, and assorted minor accessories) on Monday. B&H didn't act on it until Wednesday, which slightly troubled me, but it was in UPS's tracking system on Wednesday. And Wednesday night, they were claiming it would be delivered Friday, which I didn't expect, since that would be two day service and I only paid for 3-5 day ground service. And it was coming from New York.
But this morning, they said it was on the truck in Urbana.
And this afternoon, they said it was back on the truck, the driver having missed birder2. I have stuff shipped to her place, because I'm never home during the day; she's retired and at least home some of the time. At my previous jobs, I could get stuff delivered at work, but I don't think getting something delivered to the University would be the best plan. And the UPS web site said that they would try to deliver again on Monday.
Now, having gotten my stuff all the way from New York to Urbana today, I didn't really want to wait until after the weekend to actually get it to me. Besides, there's no guarantee birder2 would be at home Monday either. So I tried to beat my way through the best efforts of the UPS web site to make me give up and go away to get them to tell me how I could have them just let me pick it up at the UPS center before they gave up on delivering it to the shipping address. Eventually, I found a bit of documentation that told me that the card the delivery guy left when he couldn't make the delivery had a magic number on it which would lead me to the option to do this. So I called birder2 and got that number, and entered it in the tracking number box. But I didn't see the option. After fumbling through several pages again, I found a note that said that if I clicked through from the first non-delivery notice page to the full history of the package, it would have the magic link. (I'd skipped going to the detail page, because all I needed was the last step, which was on the summary page.) So I clicked, and there was the option. Which led me to a form where I entered my name and phone number, and I promptly got a phone call from the local UPS office. They assured me I could get my package today. But, I realized, I had foolishly not included my name on the "ship to" address, and they would not release the package to someone other than the person it was addressed to. But, they said, they could release it if they had a signed note from the named recipient, so I called birder2 again. She was going out for the evening, but I arranged for her to leave the necessary note.
In the course of the phone call where I arranged this, I do not recall them saying anything specific about when it would be there, so I just guessed it would be sometime after 5. And one of the pages I'd fumbled through trying to find out how I could tell them to stop driving my package around and just give it to me said that the office I'd be getting it at was only open until 6:30. So I left work at 5:15, got the note, and got to the UPS office a bit before 6. (I wanted to be sure I had time to work through any problems they had before they tossed me out at 6:30, since the previously mentioned web page was very clear that was when they closed.) I was somewhat disgruntled when the clerk told me that packages that were coming off the truck that had been out that day (they call this "will call", like it was tickets at a theater) were only available between 7:00 and 7:30. Well after they were supposed to be closed. She told me that the person who'd called me was supposed to tell me this, but if they did, it did not stick. So, there I was with a little over an hour to kill before I could get my package.
Not really feeling like just sitting around for an hour, I decided to go out for dinner. I went to Hickory River (formerly known as Longhorn Smokehouse, but they changed their name, I think because the chain that calls themselves Longhorn Smokehouse objected -- I think the independent Urbana store had the name first, but the chain had more expensive lawyers), and had my usual half chicken, which was dreadfully messy and joyously delicious, as usual. I still had 20 minutes to kill, so I had a brief walk through Busey Woods for dessert (where the most interesting thing I saw was a woodchuck by the parking lot). Then, back to the UPS place.
After a bit of confusion, they allowed me to have my package. It was huge. It was like 4 feet long. I didn't think it could be mine at all, because I was expecting a normal box shaped box about 2 feet long. The shipper was only identified as "B H P V", but those are the right letters at least. (B&H Photo Video.) So, with some trepidation I toted it out to my car, and discovered it didn't really quite fit in the cargo area, but was just close enough I could leave the seat up.
I got it home and started unpacking. I picked the right end to open and found the packing list, which listed the stuff I'd ordered. I was worried that the boxes on several of the smaller items looked a bit mashed, but nothing seemed to be broken. The lenses both seem to work fine, at least, and the filters and lens hoods fit. I got the batter grip installed, and discovered that, for no apparent reason, it's a little bit thicker than the rest of the camera, so it doesn't feel quite right. Mumble. I guess it's an improvement, but if I'd actually had the chance to try it, I might not have bought it. We'll see if I actually shoot more in portrait mode. And finally, I got down to the tripod, where I got the worst shock. I was sure the tripod I'd had before was the three-section model, so that's what I ordered this time. But this thing is huge. It seems solid and functional, operating like I remember, but extending the legs doesn't feel right. I go back and check the box for the old one, and oh fudge, it was the four section one. Now I have a dilemma. Do I keep the three section one, or exchange it? The three section one should be slightly quicker and easier to use, a plus, and possibly a little steadier, but it's also, according to the boxes, 120mm longer folded up. This will make it slightly more awkward strapped to a backpack, but that's probably not a big worry. Unless, of course, I'm carrying the backpack on an airplane. I took the HG-504 with me to Ecuador, strapped to my carryon-legal backpack, and it didn't get a second look. But I'm pretty sure the HG-503 is too long.
I'm also gnashing my teeth at the thought that I really want to walk around with two cameras now, and based on a tiny amount of test focusing on things around the house I think I'll really like the 17-85 lens, but that will mean taking a lot of shots with my old Digital Rebel. I really wanted to get 30D, but even though I could have gotten about a $100 discount if I got the 30D kit with the 17-85 lens, I really didn't feel like I could afford another $1100. But as soon as I'd actually fired off the order, I realized that I was sweating the extra $1100 based on the money I have now, but I was forgetting the huge tax refund I have coming. I still *shouldn't* have sprung for that extra money, but counting the refund I *could*. And I'm really gonna want it 9 days from now. But I'd have to pay through the nose to get it before I leave, so I think I'll have to stick with plan A, which was hoping that I could skip the 30D entirely and get the model that Canon should be coming out with any day now that puts the 10 MP self-cleaning image sensor from the Rebel XTi into the 30D body. (Or I could dream that Canon will really get with the program and put image stabilization into the camera body, where it clearly really belongs now that film is dead, and come out with a prosumer or truly pro answer to the Sony Alpha. Or even just release a version of the new 1D Mark III with a full 1.6x multiplier instead of 1.3x. Dear Canon, stop letting the landscape weenies tell you that the 1.6x multiplier is bad. Think of us serious telephoto users, for whom it's a godsend, and give us a true professional camera. We'll sell our souls (or at least break into our retirement accounts) to have one.)