Blog

Summer Update

Hi All,

First off, here are my pictures from my travels this summer: http://unheconomicscollective.ning.com/photos

Been a while since I've posted.  Busy working on my SURF project with A Rod, where we are running a naive bayes analysis to predict box office performance of upcoming movies. Actually, this is based on a previous study A Rod and I did for the Oscars last semester, and it proved right!

Speaking of movies, a ton of great ones are out in July.  Starting out with Spiderman Homecoming, the webslinger has never had such a truly high school based tale.  Anything Marvel will be good at this point. The week after that saw War for the Planet of the Apes, the final installment in the reboot trilogy. Similar to the second film, Dawn, I have never been so captivated and invested in story telling in a long time.  Everything about War, from the smart script, acting, and needless to say flawless rendering and motion capture of the apes, was superb. I'll write my full review later, but War might challenge Logan for my favorite movie this year. And next week sees Dunkirk, Nolan's first movie since 2014's Interstellar.  Nolan doesn't produce mediocre films, and bringing Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, and Harry Styles (yup, from One Direction) together will truly be a cinematic experience best seen in IMAX.

Truthfully this has been rather a hectic summer.  Doing SURF, an internship, lifeguarding weekends for extra cash, keeping up on movies, planning West Fest and feeding my travel bug has left me quite busy.  Yet that is how I like to operate. 

From June 15-25, I returned to the Holy Land to staff a Birthright trip. Being a participant in 2015, interning in Israel in 2016, and staffing younger adolescents this summer has given me a fairly visceral experience.  I no longer feel a stranger in a strange land, which does partially take the novelty out of it, yet I have so many friends from my experiences there it is hard to feel far away from home in the far reaches of Western Asia. 

The tour of Birthright is admittedly bias and super pro-Zionist, which has pros and cons. Yet going in with an open mind is key to getting the most of the experience.  Israel is more or less the same as last summer, with an added super Wonder Woman phase sweeping the nation after Gal Gadot became the first Israeli to reach mainstream Hollywood stardom in Wonder Woman, which might be the second good film in the DC Universe, giving them a 50% success rate.

Israel was another great trip full of memories, sights, friends, food, and home, and I plan on returning to staff another trip in Winter and extend to see Jordan, home to Wadi Rum and Petra, both used as filming locations. The former is an otherworldly canyon that looks so much like Mars that The Martian was filmed there, as well as David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia. The latter is a world wonder, an ancient Nabatean city where The Last Crusade concluded.

Right after Israel, I took the opportunity to go sailing with Professor Pete Peterson, in charge of the sales program at UNH.  A 33 foot hunter, we left from Westbrook to go to Bermuda.  Unfortunately, the crew fixing up the boat took some short cuts and we were forced to turn back.  Yet we still go five days at sea, which is nothing like I have ever done before.  

The stars were absolutely incredible, and at night, the trail of the boat in the water lit up as phosphorescent plankton shimmered. Several times a day flocks of dolphins and porpoises would visit us, another amazing experience. I certainly got my sea legs, as 33 feet is not a lot of room for four people to not help out with the boat. I am incredibly thankful to Professor Peterson for the opportunity. 

Well, stay posted for the SURF project results.  I am attaching many pictures, yet as always, pictures never show the full depth and detail of the beauty of nature. Please ask me any questions you may have about Israel, sailing, movies, SURF, or life. 

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