Top 15 Must-see Upcoming Movies of 2012

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CLICK ON THE NAME OF THE MOVIE TO SEE THE TRAILER.

1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (December 14) – Just in time–I’ve been having Middle Earth withdrawal. I will miss Aragorn, though.

2. The Hunger Games (March 23) – Read the book(s) first, but don’t miss the movie.

3. The Dark Knight Rises (July 20) – Ann Hathaway as Cat Woman? I’m not feeling it, but I’m willing to keep an open mind.

4. John Carter (March 9) – the only question here is: 3D or IMAX? (Even though do you think they reused the arena from Star Wars Episode 2?)

5. Wrath of the Titans (March 30) – clash, wrath, whatever. “You will learn someday that being half human makes you stronger than a god.” Feel the wrath.

6. Brave (June 22) – Disney/Pixar’s latest offering. Can it be better than Tangled?

7. Snow White & the Huntsman (June 1) – We are giving Kristen Stewart one last chance to show us she can actually act….

8. MIB3 (May 25) – Just in time for Sara’s birthday! 🙂 (if you don’t know what MIB stands for you won’t like the movie, so never mind.)

9. Marvel’s The Avengers (May 4) – The title does not exactly roll off one’s tongue, but Ironman, Captain America & Thor all in one movie? Can’t wait!

10. The Secret World of Arrietty (February 17) – looks like a movie version of the book, The Borrowers (which I can’t stand), but still–it is produced by Toshio Suzuki who made Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, so it qualifies as a must-see.

11. Prometheus (June 8)- it’s just another Ridley Scott Alien movie, but who cares?

12. GI Joe: Retaliation (June 29)- The Rock PLUS Bruce Willis!

13. The Amazing Spiderman (July 3) – yay…we get to see Emma Stone again.

14. Skyfall (November 9) – The next James Bond movie! (No trailer yet.)

15. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (February 17) – my children have categorically refused to see this with me because they say it will be really terrible. Strangely, they do not want to see flaming pee. My husband wants to see it though. Which is why he is my true soul mate.

Human Connectome Project

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The Human Connectome Project, a collaborative effort recently undertaken by MGH and UCLA, aims to map our brains, like the Human Genome Project has resulted in a map of our genes. This mapping information will be invaluable in helping to understand the link between brain activity and behaviors, as well as mental illness and perhaps even conditions like Alzheimer’s and autism.

The implications are–literally–mindblowing. Will this type of science eventually lead to the ability to “read” our minds? Will we be able to tell if you are “lusting in (your) heart” for someone other than your significant other? Will a court of law be able to “prove”  a defendant’s intent or lack thereof as evidence for a crime or civil liability?

UPDATE: Jennifer Elam, in her comment, reminds me that there is also a larger, complementary project being conducted by Wash U. and U of M. Please see her comment below.

Google thinks I am a male in my 30’s

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Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

LOL. Google has a new privacy policy. They have sent me an email every day for three days to tell me this. It’s kind of like reminding your child to empty the dishwasher–if they nag, I mean remind, me enough, will I read the new privacy policy? Yup, and I read it very carefully. And in the course of thoroughly educating myself on the new privacy policy–like a good internet citizen–I clicked on Ads Preferences Manager, thinking that I might actually have a chance to change my Ads Preferences.

I have decided to leave my Ads Preferences just the way they are. Because I love that under “Your Demographics” Google says to me: We infer your age and gender based on the websites you’ve visited. Age: 35-44. Gender: Male. What the heck does that say about me? I guess that I have more in common with 30-something males than my 50-something female peers. More to the point, I wonder what Google makes of my handbag-stalking on Piperlime and Zappos if I am a 30-something male.

Actually, the real question is: does Google know that I have read the new policy and will they therefore stop sending me emails? Scary thought.

UPDATE: Sure enough–it’s 48 hours later and Big Brother, I mean Google, has not sent me another email notification of their new privacy act, I’m guessing because it knows that I have read it!

I went tiger hunting

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In February 2004 we took our three children out of school for two months and traveled in India, Cambodia, Thailand, Hong Kong & Tokyo. 38 days, 37 hours on a plane, 23 hours in an airport, 20 time zones, 35 hours of driving, 10 hours of animal riding (specifically camels and elephants), 190 malaria pills (38 each), 360 antibacterial Handi-wipes (15 boxes), 2 bottles of Purell, and 5 cuisines later, we flew to Hawaii for a “vacation”. This post is part of a series on that trip.

I went tiger hunting. For real. With my kids too. And my husband of course, without whom no tiger hunting excursion would be complete. Ok, not with guns, because that would be SO un-pc, but with cameras. It was a while ago, but of all the places we’ve travelled and the things we have done (more on that later) it was by far one of the coolest. And our family is all about The Coolest Experience.

The Oberoi Vanyavilas Hotel

We were staying at Vanyavilas Hotel in Ranthambore National Park in India, which is also THE coolest hotel I have ever stayed at. (I clearly need to consult an online thesaurus for some synonyms for “cool”.) Our beautiful “rooms” were actually luxury tents–complete with full bathrooms, hardwood floors, and four-poster beds. The service was impeccable, and the food was fresh and delicious. The following is an excerpt from my journal about our 4 days of tiger hunting with our three children ages 8, 11, and 14:

Despite repeated safaris, and rising ever earlier (5:30am) we spotted no tigers. We saw lots of tiger tracks and poop, heard monkeys’ warning calls and tigers roaring, and spoke to people who heard tigers, but did not actually see tigers.  We had the best time, though, on our tiger hunts. It was freezing cold in the early mornings when we got in our open-air safari jeep. We would zoom to the Park about 15 minutes away, risking frostbite to our ears, and the local naturalist assigned to us would jump out to the office “to get our route”. We quickly figured out that the best route was to be had in direct proportion to the tip to the guide the day before.  Continue reading

Amazon review of HP Envy 100 Printer

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4.0 out of 5 stars Good printer which meets our needs, but has some minor issues, January 13, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

I have now owned this printer for 4 months and it has proved to be a printer that meets our needs, although there have been a few small problems. Canon is usually my printer brand of choice because of my experience with excellent reliability, but for wireless printing from a variety of PCs, Macs, and iPads, (which Canon does not offer) this printer seems like the best choice.

PROS:

Wireless printing for all devices: the printer prints well from the various PCs (Windows 7), Macs (both Lion and Snow Leopard), and iPads we have in our house. We initially had trouble installing the printer to a new MacBook Pro running Lion, but the problem was resolved after completing a system update.  Continue reading

Apartment rental with Terrace in Rome!

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View from the terrace toward St. Peter's

TRIP ADVISOR REVIEW:

Great location, best view!

5 of 5 starsReviewed October 24, 2011

In June 2011, we had a magical trip to Rome with our three kids. We rented an apartment through Trip Advisor’s Vacation Rental website–which is a leap of faith since you are required to fork over a hefty deposit (through PayPal) and for all we knew the apartment with the “astonishing view” didn’t exist but someone on the other end of my PayPal account was hundreds of dollars richer. Happily, the apartment existed and was everything we had hoped. My TripAdvisor review follows:

The best: The location around the corner from Campo dei Fiori can’t be beat. We went out every morning for coffee and fresh bread, and stocked up for our picnic at the Campo dei Fiori market (open daily except Sundays from about 7am to 2pm). Our teens came and went as necessary and found everything (food, bars, shopping) all within an easy walk. We had daily picnics on the terrace, which has an absolutely wonderful view. As the apartment is small, it made all the difference as a place to relax and (of course!) have a glass of wine.

How to add Swype to Galaxy Nexus

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UPDATE (2/17/12): Today the official Swype Beta with ICS support was released! To get it:

1. If you have the unofficial version of Swype, uninstall it. (Settings > Apps > Swype >  Uninstall)
2. Go to beta.swype.com and register with an email that is accessible to your phone.
3. From your phone, open the account activation email you receive. Take note of the “account code” and then click on the link to download the Swype Installer.
4. Download the Installer, open it, login with your email and password, enter the account key when prompted, and follow the instruction from there.

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If you have a new Galaxy Nexus and have tried to install a Swype from the Android Market, you have received an error message. According to Swype, “the screen size is not supported”, and therefore Swype is incompatible with Ice Cream Sandwich. They said in December that an update would come out at the end of January 2012, but so far there is no Swype for Ice Cream Sandwich in sight. However, other enterprising folks have created a Swype that works beautifully on my Galaxy Nexus. I have had it for a week now, and give an inward sigh of relief every time I use it. Here’s how to install it:

Continue reading