out of pure curiosity, i went to a matinee of avatar in harvard square with a free movie screening coupon i'd been saving up. normally matinees are pretty empty, but for a movie that's been out for almost 3 weeks, there was still a dozen people at the screening, sitting in their seats with their 3-D glasses on. i usually like to arrive at movies early, but i got there with just minutes to spare and they were already rolling the trailers. at a certain point a special message came on the screen informing the audience to put on our glasses. if you didn't already, then the suddenly blurry images might offer additional clues. i had the wear the 3-D glasses on top of the glasses i was already wearing, but it wasn't too bad.
without the 3-D, avatar would just be a so-so science fiction movie. many reviews have described the film as dances with wolves but with aliens, and that's entirely true. there are also shades of aliens (the deadly love triangle between science, business, and the military) and dune (taming a mythical beast to win the respect of the natives). however, the reason why anyone would go see this movie isn't really for the story but rather the technology. regardless of your opinion about the film, you can't deny the fact that they spent a lot of money on the special effects, and they are impressive, especially more so in 3-D. in the end, i was entertained, but i prefer my scifi a little more cerebral, and less predictable.
avatar is a long movie (almost 3 hours) but i didn't drink anything so i was in good shape (no emergency run to the bathroom and missing crucial movie minutes). afterwards i came back home. while putting away the trash bins, a man walked up to me on the street and asked, "are you tony yang?" i was a bit startled, until he handed a package that got accidentally delivered to his house. "this happens all the time," he said, and i told him i get a bunch of his mails as well. it's not too big a deal for me but apparently this bothered him enough that he passive-aggressively wrote on the package, "this was delivered to [so-and-so address]". i've rerouted wrongly delivered mail all the time, but never once felt i had to give myself credit for just doing the right thing. but now i've met my mysterious wrongly-delivered addressee, maybe next time he won't be so irritated.
the package was the hand warmer i ordered on monday. it came with said hand warmer, a fabric pouch, a spare heating element, and a set of instructions. the cutout design on the lid featured a pair of penguins underneath a rainbow of either stars or snowflakes. it's slightly bigger than my old hand warmer, and flatter too.
i went to the local rite aid and bought a 12 oz. container of ronsonol lighter fluid for $4.39. the woman at the cash register actually carded me since apparently they're not allowed to sell lighter fluid to kids (just like cigarettes). i then rode to the cafe to show my parents my new toy. i didn't have lunch yet and had some chinese dumplings. before i left, my father helped me fill the hand warmer with less than a tenth of an ounce of lighter fluid. we lit it up and i put it inside my shirt pocket on my ride backh home. by then it had already started to get dark.
there was just enough lighter fluid for about 3 hours of heat. not sure whether it's because of the fuel or the design, but there was hardly any smell. if there was a scent, it was kind of similar to an electric curling iron. unlike the previous hand warmer, no flames were involved other than the few seconds of fire to start the hand warmer. this particular model uses a platinum catalyst. i did some research online and couldn't find any exact details on how it works, but the gist of it seems like methyl alcohol vapors is oxidized into formaldehyde with the platinum acting as a catalyst (source: jefferson lab). this chemical reaction gives off heat, and that's what power the hand warmer. apparently if i pour in a full ounce of fuel, i can get 24 hours of heat.
for dinner i made some more reuben sandwiches. must finish all that corn beef!