Updates!

I will be away from social media for a little bit so two quick updates:

– I had a small accident yesterday coming back from the visa office. I’m perfectly all right; at worst, I’m mildly concussed but most likely just a lot stressed over the whole situation. Mine is a cautionary tale about not driving over 10 mph in bad weather and also making sure you have good tires.

– I was picking up my visa to go to China, where I will be spending the new year for the first time! I haven’t seen my extended family in nearly 4 years, so I’m very excited to go back. I’m slightly less excited to have my relatives ask me when I’m getting married, why I’m so tan, and how round my face is getting.

Due to the Great Firewall of China and my general tendency to keep away from social media while I’m on vacation, I’ll be reachable by email but you may not have as much luck with everything else.
Otherwise, be back in touch with everyone in under 3 weeks!

(I have a post about my ghastly visa experience ready that I may publish before I leave, or after I come back. I haven’t forgotten about my Europe posts that are left! Please lemme know if you’d rather I put those up when I get back or my China posts first.)

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Yelp’s Winter Break in Atlantic City!

On Friday, my boyfriend and I drove up to Atlantic City for a Yelp-hosted weekend getaway trip, sponsored by Bally’s & Caesar’s. My best friends also came up with us.

Let’s just say it was an amazing time.

We got there too late for the registration happy hour, where there were some free drinks and munchies, since we were coming all the way up from the DC Maryland region and most attendees were from the New Jersey/Philly Yelp communities. It was raining and foggy and we got hungry, so we didn’t check into our room until about 8.

It was so foggy outside our window that, literally, I couldn’t see maybe 100-200 meters past the hotel. I couldn’t even see any lights from neighboring buildings or parking lots or roads or anything. Just the street directly in front of (or behind…?) Bally’s and the roof of a building and that was it. That was our view for the entire weekend (until the morning of check out).

Ben and I watched a little bit of Source Code, which was playing on TNT, until my friends were checked in. Then we headed to Mountain Bar for the first party of the weekend. We each got 2 free drinks and the bits of free food that was left. I wasn’t that hungry though after stopping on the way for dinner. I don’t drink much, but I did try whiskey for the first time. It made my mouth hurt and then numb… what? Anyway, I also got this cool souvenir jar that was for a promotion in the participating hotels. Each one had different signature drinks, and we got to keep those mugs yay. It was a really fun evening watching the go-go dancers, people ride the mechanical bull, and a random appearance by impersonators playing Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, and Frank Sinatra.

The next day, we got up and headed to a local joint that had good reviews, but was not quite what we wanted. We were expecting a little brunch place for our Saturday brunch, but it was just a bakery and a rather mediocre one at that. We hid in there as lightning struck startlingly close and waited for the rain to let up before we headed to a proper lunch place. We just stopped into a chain place because we were pretty famished at this point and it was threatening to start raining on us again.

After lunch, we managed to complete the scavenger hunt (after skipping some steps oops), which means we each have a free night at Harrah’s sometime during the week. Then, we went to Piers Shops at Caesar’s to enjoy the fountain show and do some window shopping, since we canNOT afford most of those stores. (Yes, I see you Tiffany’s. No, I won’t even bother walking in.) Just some fun casual browsing, the highlight of which was getting massages in the chairs and foot-massage devices at Brookstone.

Hourly fountain show at the Piers Shops
Hourly fountain show at the Piers Shops

We were pretty tired at this point, so we all went back to our rooms for naps (haha). Afterwards, we went to Johnny Rocket’s in Bally’s for dinner. It was my first time in a Johnny Rocket’s, so I was a little surprised by things like turning off the lights for birthday celebrations, and the we-wish-we-weren’t-here performance in the middle of the restaurant. My burger and shake were yummy, but my milkshake may have given me a bit of a bellyache, so I headed back to my room for some hot water and The Big Bang Theory while my friends tried their luck in the casino.

Multiple cups of hot water for me (some pre-game beverages for other people) and episodes of The Big Bang Theory later, we got dressed for the final party of the weekend at Caesar’s. We were BLOWN AWAY by what we saw. There was an entire ballroom reserved for us, and the room was decorated in true Caesar’s style for our toga party. People went all out with costumes, there was an open bar (a mistake for Yelpers, trust me), lots of delicious food… it was way more than I was expecting and I was so excited!
I still had a bellyache though, so I didn’t get to eat very much. But the bites I had were delicious. Apparently, as my friends were coming back from the bathroom, they saw cops haul away some people fighting over a girl. I missed out on that action 😛

Swanky
Swanky

By the end of the night, I had an awesome goodie bag and was fully prepared to come back next year for another wonderful weekend. This was definitely a lot more fun than I anticipated and I have to give mega props to the Yelp organizers who put this together.

2014-01-16 15.35.48At least there was sunshine to send us off.

Saving Mr. Banks

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/0d/Saving_Mr._Banks_Theatrical_Poster.jpg

I watched Saving Mr. Banks during the week of Christmas. It was a highly anticipated film for Disnerds like myself. I was excited for a few things:

  • The first on-screen portrayal of Walt Disney ever
  • By none other than Tom Hanks
  • 50th anniversary of Mary Poppins
  • Great cast
  • DISNEY MOVIE

I was a little concerned that this movie would be really biased. PL Travers infamously hated what Disney did with Mary Poppins and, when the musical version was made, refused to allow anyone who was involved with the Disney film contribute AND refused to have any Americans, only British contributors. Disney did a few things that went directly against what she wanted and some things that were rude, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that they actually included many of these things in the film.

Needless to say, this was an extraordinarily touching movie, especially if you really loved Mary Poppins and/or if you’re interested in Walt Disney the man himself. I started tearing up at the very beginning when they played the vintage Walt Disney Pictures opening screen.

I want to say this before I forget to mention it, but Colin Farrell was fantastic in his role as Travers Goff. He was such an endearing character, the father who loved his daughter so much, so kind, bringing so much magic into her life. The promos really focused on Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, and for good reason, but I really wish that Colin Farrell got some more credit for the amazing job that he did. I loved his portrayal of his character, and I became really emotionally attached to Travers Goff, which I knew was dangerous since I already knew going into he film that he was an alcoholic. So of course, his character made me cry.

I was surprised by how much I liked Paul Giamatti‘s character in this movie. He played Ralph, Pamela Travers’s chauffeur while she was in California. I don’t love the roles that he usually plays, but I really liked him here. Again, very endearing. You kind of understand why Pamela is annoyed by him, but you want to like him, too. The friendship that blossoms between the two of them is beautiful and, of course, made me cry.

Emma Thompson played Pamela Travers, um… perfectly. She was absolutely wonderful. She played this very difficult person in a way that made you still like her. Even as she put Mickey Mouse in a corner (the horror!) you still loved her and kind of shrugged and nodded like, “Yeah that’s understandable if you don’t love Mickey, sure”. She is so great and the emotional ride you go on with Pamela Travers, who doesn’t show too much emotion throughout the film, made me — you guessed it! — cry a lot.

It would be rude for me to talk about this film without mentioning Tom Hanks, who played the first portrayal of Walter Elias Disney in a mainstream film. He plays the Disney that, of course, Disney the company wants you see: he’s charming and there’s a magical air about him. He sees the world differently. He is a man shaped by a cruel childhood, and he found solace in a mouse, who helped him prevent other children from having quite as cruel childhoods. Tom was a great choice for this role and he played it so well. (Yes, I cried at Tom Hanks also.)

I was rather surprised with the casting choice of BJ Novak and Jason Schwartzman as the Sherman brothers, but I really liked them in their roles. I’m so used to seeing them in comedies so this was refreshing to see. They stepped up and did well in their roles.

I’ll wrap up this post with a bulleted list of things I loved about this film. There are some spoilers, so please be forewarned. Another spoiler alert: a lot of these things made me cry.

I highly recommend this film. It was beautiful and, yes, made me cry tears of joy and sorrow and nostalgia and oh there were so many feelings. A must-see for any fan of Mary Poppins, Walt Disney, and Disney films.Read More »

Polar Vortex Experiment!

If you live in North America, you may have noticed something.
It’s quite cold, eh?

May as well try to have some fun with it.

Yay! Explanation is described here as follows:

All things being equal, cold water freezes faster.<bb

It takes time for the energy contained in a hot object to be transferred to a cold object. However, the rate of heat transfer is proportional to the temperature difference between the two objects, so hot water will lose heat faster than cold water. In other words, if you have water at 90 degrees C and water at 10 degrees C and the freezer is at -10 degrees C, the hot water will lose heat five times faster than the cold water; however, the cold water will still win the race. As the hot water cools it’s rate of heat transfer will decrease, so it will never catch up to the cold water.

Some people claim that hot water freezes faster because a pot of boiling water can be thrown into the air on a cold winter day, and it freezes in mid air creating a shower of ice crystals. Whereas a pot of cold water thrown into the air comes down as large blobs of water. This happens because the hot water is so close to being steam, that the act of throwing it into the air causes it to break up into tiny droplets. (hot water is less viscous than cold water, listen to the sound it makes when you pour it in the sink) The small water droplets have a large surface area which allows for a great deal of evaporation, this removes heat quickly. And finally, the cooled droplets are so small, that they can be easily frozen by the winter air. All of this happens before the water hits the ground. Cold water is thicker and stickier, it doesn’t break up into such small pieces when thrown into the air, so it comes down in large blobs.
Joe Larsen, Ph.D. Chemistry, Rockwell Science Center, Los Angeles, CA

Try it yourself, but BE CAREFUL.