Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nerd Night Out

I love that William and I have completely embraced our nerdiness. Tonight we went to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair to see some of the projects done by high school students around the world. William, the brilliant genius that he is, actually WON the entire competition back in 1996 with "Making an Octet Library to Quicken DNA Sequencing." Here is he with his award winning presentation. Since the competition was being held in San Jose this year, William was able to volunteer his time to represent Google for a few hours on Monday. He took an hour to go see some of the presentations but that was no where near enough time so he brought me back tonight- Thursday night- since it was the day the public could visit. We were there for an hour and a half and we probably only saw less than 1/5th of the posters. None of the presenters were there for us to ask questions or see demos, which would have been super cool in some instances. We really wanted to see the robot who could solve a scrambled rubix cube in 45 seconds, a laptop that uses and stores power from when you type (GENIUS), and an electronic that floats on top of a water (like a water skeeter). We also learned that there are over 20 possible cures for cancers and that it is out of control how much access these kids have to high end technologies. Several of them were able to work with stem cells and MRIs- I definitely didn't have these opportunities when I was in high school! They have also upgraded the quality of the presentations- several had huge poster size professional banners that must have cost at least several hundred dollars to produce. One student had the brilliant idea of incorporating digital picture frames into the poster so that it would cycle through the findings so that they were easily readable from a distance. It was so interesting to see what projects are capturing the attention of high school students. The Google area was super cool too- they had one of the street view cars, a microwave where William melted CDs to show the power meter in terms of real time energy use (I think he just really enjoyed experimenting with non-traditional items :-), and the holladeck (a nearly 360 degree view of Google Earth in 3D). Yes, these are the types of things that we enjoy doing as a date :-) We love being nerds!! We like to think of ourselves as "cool nerds" though :-)

Go Kart Racing

We went go kart racing while in Las Vegas at the Pole Position Raceway just a few blocks off the strip. It was my first time go kart racing and I'm not sure that I will be going for awhile. In the instructional video, they told us that if anyone forced us off the track, we would both not be allowed to finish the race. I was 2nd to last and I had been bumped several times throughout my first lap. Before I could even cross the finish line for my first of 12 laps, I was hit from behind so hard that I went underneath the plastic barriers. I had seen other people run into the side on earlier races but no one had gone underneath, showing that I had been hit super hard in order to have enough velocity to get underneath. They had to come and extract me and my right upper arm was scraped and badly bruised. They took me out and the guy who hit me and I was initially upset because I thought that I would have just wasted our money but they let me run on the next race. So I wasn't able to race with William, Matt and Brekke. The guy who hit me was really mad at me- while I was on my race, he kept pointing me out to his friends. Needless to say, I didn't go very fast on my 2nd run but at least I was only bumped slightly close to the end. I guess I was just in the super competitive heat. I came in 2nd to last- I was just happy I wasn't last. I still have a small part of the bruise left, but it is almost gone. Not quite the ride I had anticipated but at least I went back on the track. I'm just not sure now when I will do it again . . .

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Serendipity 3

William and I were thrilled when we found out that there was a Serendipity 3 just outside of Caesar's Palace. We only had to wait about 5 minutes for a table before we got their amazing frozen hot chocolate, unlike sometimes in NYC when there is a long wait all day long. They seriously have the best frozen hot chocolate- it is the perfect blend of chocolate, texture, and whipped cream. This is the size for two- the perfect amount for both of us. Serendipity 3 also has a $1,000 sundae- but they did not list what made it cost or worth that much. As good as their frozen hot chocolate is, I wouldn't pay that much for it :-)

Beloved Bellagio

Ah, the Bellagio. So much to love about this hotel. William and I are going to stay there one day and get a lake view room so that we can watch the water shows all night. We'll just have to luck out with one of the weekends or other time when there is a deal.

We found heaven at their sweet shop- we literally wanted to stick our heads underneath these chocolate fountains

This train is made of marshmallows

Mmm- look at how beautiful these desserts are. We didn't try any of those because we were waiting for the Bellagio Buffet desserts.

And it was well worth the wait. Here is the key lime pie- it was incredible

I also loved this little white chocolate mousse ice cream cone.

The Bellagio Buffet is truly the best one on the strip. They have unique items to try like ostrich (it was ok) and kobe beef (delicious) and soy swordfish (my personal favorite). I also LOVED the mushroom ravioli but really, my heart lies with the desserts. They have these ginormous chocolate covered strawberries- I had 3 of those and the peach and raspberry sorbets were amazing as well. Well worth the price.

Another unique display was in the conservatory. I loved the beautiful crystal globes with water flowing over it.

The tulips in full bloom

We also went to the art exhibit they have entitled "Figuratively Speaking" about how the human form has been portrayed over time. They had several paintings by Renoir, Picasso, Hockney, and Lichtenstein. It was an ok exhibit- not the best one they have ever had. Mainly due to this annoying live video instillation they had going on at the same time.

We were able to catch a couple of water shows before they were canceled for the night due to wind.

We sure spent a lot of time here without actually staying at the hotel- but one day . . .

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Paris Creperie

We ate at the Paris Creperie for breakfast on Saturday and it was super good. William and I shared one with pancetta and bechamel sauce- mmm. It reminded me of a more upscale version of European Connection- it was this local chain that used to be in Utah where they made both sweet and savory crepes. I was so sad when they closed it.

William took these great night photos of the exteriors of the Paris and Planet Hollywood hotels.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monte Carlo Hotel

We stayed at the Monte Carlo hotel- our first visit and we loved the location right next to the City Center. We had gotten to the hotel early on Saturday morning- about 9 am- and they amazingly had a room ready for us. We then went up to the room and found that it had not yet been made up. I called down to the front desk to have someone make it up and instead, they had us come back down and assigned us to another room. And for our trouble, they "Vegased" us- we got two free meals at their buffet! Woo hoo! It was a super nice gesture that was greatly appreciated. I truly do appreciate that kind of customer service. We went to the buffet on Sunday morning for brunch and it was good- I particularly loved the biscuits and gravy (so so delicious) and the hash browns. The Bellagio buffet is still the best though.

I loved these photos of the hotel at night.

City Center Las Vegas

We spent two weekends ago having "a little more conversation" with my dear friends Matt and Brekke. They are such easy going traveling companions and are so much fun!! We LOVED the new City Center at Las Vegas. We stayed at the Monte Carlo which was right next to it so we spent much of our time wandering around, admiring the unique architecture and statues. Several hotels and shopping centers are in this area- the Aria, Vdara, Mandarin Oriental, and yet another high end shopping center.

The view from Matt and Brekke's deluxe room

Aria hotel

They have these amazing water falls outside the hotel

The lobby had this intricately tiled floor

William, with his curious nature, was able to stumble upon this unique area of the hotel which had these floor triangle sculptures which had a surprising cacti gardens in the center.

I also liked this wall right next to it- I have no idea what the circular objects are

But by far, my favorite part was these metal sculptures- they are so fluid and mesmerizing. I have no idea how they made them- but so impressive. People kept touching them to see if they were hollow or not (I didn't so I have no idea)

The Vdara had these two modern sculptures outside of it

I loved the high end shopping center- Crystals.

William in particular really disliked the yellow panels on the building behind the stores.

Inside, they had so many unique architectural features using many different media. Wood

Lighted steps

Lighted sculptures

But the best part were these lighted water tornadoes. They kept starting and stopping them, raising and lowering the level of water. Totally fascinating and captivating-

I loved how all of the light colors were captured in the curves of the tornado. We so enjoyed this new area, especially because of all of these unique architectural elements.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Romeo and Juliet: The Ballet

Last night was the final ballet of my season tickets to the San Francisco ballet and it was by far and away my FAVORITE. It was in the more classical style of ballet which was the perfect way to convey this timeless story. The costumes were unbelievably beautiful- rich velvets, silks, outer robes, dresses, and even head pieces. My absolute favorites were the dresses of Juliet's mother- black velvet and lace with hints of salmon as a liner. The scenery and staging was beautiful and poignant- my favorite scenes were the sword fighting scenes that happened on two levels of a higher walkway and then the stage. The death scene in the crypt with the lone platform and the wrought iron gate behind it. The dancers did an amazing job of embodying the teenage angst and despair from the story. I LOVED the ballroom scene with all of the company and partner dancing- it was truly magnificent.

There were a few hokey elements such as Tibult's VERY over exaggerated and prolonged death and then Romeo dancing around with Juliet's limp body (it was just bizarre and awkward, not really romantic/attractive). My all time favorite ballet is still Swan Lake but I would have to say that this is definitely one of the top ones. I am definitely planning on getting season tickets next year.