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Visiting the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami, Florida

Visiting the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami, Florida

On my recent trip my Miami, my friends and I spent a majority of our time relaxing and drinking adult beverages. However, one of the highlights of the trip was an unexpected good time: the historic Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. Before going, we researched this […]

17 Tips for the Best Vacation to Miami, Florida

17 Tips for the Best Vacation to Miami, Florida

My recent trip to Miami — which I also wrote a post about here — was exciting, fun, and very relaxing. That being said, I definitely could have done a little more research before the trip. With my birthday weekend right before the trip, I was […]

Ch-Ch-Changes: Life Update, May 2017

Ch-Ch-Changes: Life Update, May 2017

I wanted to post a quick update about two new and exciting things in my life. As of now, I’ve been working my current job since October and living in Boston since November. However, as a 23-year-old, my life is bound to go through some changes. I’m thrilled to be making two huge announcements…

1. I’m starting a new job!

To maintain a little bit of discretion, I’ve decided not to share the name of my old and new companies on my blog. However, my decision to go down a different path doesn’t come from a poor experience with my old company; in fact, it’s a top-ranking company on Glassdoor in terms of Employee Experience! It comes down to one thing: passion.

I’m currently in Sales Operations. I’m not on the phone with clients, but I’m doing some behind-the-scenes work for salespeople. I took this job in the hopes that I can move into a copyediting position internally, but the Editing department is pretty miniscule and in low demand for new employees. In short, I didn’t really see anywhere for myself to grow within the company.

That’s when I came across the posting for a Copywriter at a smaller company that boasts a startup culture but with an established business presence. The process moved so quickly, maybe lasting about two weeks from my first phone interview. Walking into the in-person interview, I could immediately tell they were going to hire me. Although there is a salary increase from my previous role, money was not a factor in my decision.

Putting in my two weeks notice was nerve-wracking but my boss was extremely supportive, remarking that this new job was a much better fit for my creative mind. My last day at my current company is May 10th, a Wednesday. My original plan was to have Friday (the 12th) as my last day, but I have enough extra personal time to get paid for Thursday and Friday. This means I’ll have two weekdays off to prepare myself, relax, and recharge for my new role.

That being said, I am pleased to say, I am going to be a professional writer, at last! And not even a Junior Copywriter, a (regular, non entry level) Copywriter!

2. I’m moving back home!

Yes, I’m saying this with an exclamation point, not a groan, as many people my age would.

When I had just graduated from college and was living at home, I wasn’t too happy; with the tedious job hunt, working my high school job, and just not feeling like I had control over anything in my life, I was in a massive rut. Getting a job improved things immensely, but the commute was taking a toll on me, so I decided to move out, to Chestnut Hill. Well, here I am again, in a rut.

Where did this rut come from? I thought living away from home would solve everything! Not quite.

  1. I wasn’t saving much, between student loans, rent and utilities, and other expenses. I could easily overlook this if the other reasons were not so substantial.
  2. It’s a tenant at will rental agreement, so I don’t get anything I put into the apartment back in tax deductions.
  3. I’m not close with my roommates, which is fine, but I find myself feeling lonely sometimes.
  4. My commute from Chestnut Hill is pretty bad, not enough to justify paying over $800/month — a good Boston rent — to shave 20 minutes off my commute.
  5. I’m never in my apartment. Just to clarify, in the month of April, I spent 4 nights at my apartment.
  6. I will be moving into a new apartment in September — I just need the landlord to approve — so I won’t be staying in this apartment much longer anyway.
  7. And the most important reason of all… My sister is coming home for the summer and I want to spend time with her. I haven’t seen her since October of 2015 (yes, you did read that correctly) since she moved to Australia, so hanging out with her and spending family time is really important to me this summer.
labradoodle cockapoo dog puppy changes
Plus, I get to move in with these little angels!

 

I’m really looking forward to these two new changes in my life. Although they’re both a little nerve-wracking, I know that both of these new life events will benefit my present and future.

 

My Weekend in Burlington, Vermont

My Weekend in Burlington, Vermont

This weekend, I went up to my college city, Burlington, VT, for a short visit. Months ago, my friend Troy bought tickets for the two of us to see Barenaked Ladies downtown. Since the weather was nice and a lot of other alumni were going […]

Where to Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in Miami, Florida

Where to Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in Miami, Florida

I just got back from a 6-day trip to Miami and I just wanna talk about it! In my first of multiple upcoming blog posts about my vacation, I’m going to cover the essentials that every twenty-something visiting Miami needs: good food, strong drinks, and nightlife […]

My 23rd Birthday Weekend

My 23rd Birthday Weekend

I aged one year since my last blog post! That’s right, this girl is now 23, which, according to Blink-182, means nobody likes me. But that’s okay! My birthday week was pretty busy and exciting, so I decided to dedicate a blog post to recap the days leading up to and following my big day.

Wednesday, April 12:

I got discounted tickets from a coworker to see the Red Sox play the Orioles, so I brought Matt with me. We grabbed some dinner and a drink at Game On before the game. We saw the first pitch and got settled in our seats before the crowd came through, since we actually arrived early to the game.

Birthday Fenway Park Red Sox

Birthday Red Sox Fenway Park

Unfortunately, the Orioles destroyed the Sox pretty early into the game. We finished with a sad score of 5-12. The one good thing about blow-out weeknight games is that a ton of people leave early, so Matt and I moved down even closer to the field for the last three innings to join two of my friends who had gotten tickets through work. Despite my exhaustion, I stayed up until midnight to ring in the birthday!

 

Thursday, April 13 — My Birthday:

My birthday! Woohoo!

At work, my boss brought bagels in so we could have a team breakfast for my birthday. It was a good start to my morning, just relaxing and bonding with the team! The rest of the work day I tried to stay busy so the day could fly by, which it did!

Matt made a 7:00 reservation for dinner, so we had some time to kill. He had heard about a free hard cider tasting that occurs weekly at a liquor store in Beacon Hill every Thursday, and since I love cider, we made the trip. The orchard in which the cider is made is right near where Matt and I went to college in Vermont; both of us had even been to Champlain Orchard but neither of us had tried their cider. We got a tasting of a flight of four ciders, and I decided to buy one, the limited release Asian Pear cider.

The dinner Matt planned was at Stephanie’s on Newbury Street, where I’d never been. The beautiful weather influenced me to get a glass of Pinot Grigio to drink, but I still craved the comfort of pasta bolognese. Matt went for a beer — not sure which, whoops! — and chicken pot pie. While I went to the bathroom, Matt told the waitress it was my birthday, so after the meal came, the waitress came by with a piece of chocolate cake with a candle. Dinner was delicious and it was a great time!

If you know me at all, you know that I’m a diehard Survivor fan. Since we missed Wednesday’s episode because of the Red Sox game, we watched the episode before bed. It was the craziest episode, so it was a perfect way to end my birthday! (If you don’t watch Survivor or haven’t heard about what happened, check out what happened. It made national news!)

Birthday Stephanie's Newbury Street

 

Friday, April 14:

Today was a huge day for my family, but I’ll get to that later! I went to work and right after, Matt and I drove down to Duxbury, my hometown, to be greeted by my parents, my dog, and… (drumroll…) my parents’ new puppy!

Introducing Maddie, the sweetest little cockapoo!

Birthday Cockapoo Puppy

My parents have been thinking about getting a second dog for a long time. After months of thinking, they finally took the leap! We already had our 12-year-old labradoodle, Chloe, AKA my favorite thing in the entire world. With my dad’s and sister’s dog allergies, we needed to get another hypoallergenic dog. My parents contacted a cockapoo breeder from Wisconsin and a month or two later, Maddie flew in (on a United flight, yikes!)! We were nervous that Chloe would be jealous or standoffish, but she’s actually responded really well to Maddie. Sometimes Maddie annoys Chloe a little — the looks Chloe gives me remind me of Jim’s glances at the camera in The Office — but overall, she’s been very loving to her. They even cuddle sometimes, both on the floor and on Chloe’s bed!

Birthday Dogs Cuddling Puppy

My parents, Matt, and I celebrated my birthday with pizza, ice cream, and my favorite board game, Monopoly, which I’d been wanting to play. Matt didn’t have the best luck but my dad did, and even though I had some of the best properties, my dad took the win.

 

Saturday, April 15:

We played with Chloe and Maddie for a big chunk of Saturday. Maddie got some visitors, including some relatives, family friends, and my friends. Of course she was a huge hit!

Matt and I decided to take advantage of the nice day, so we grabbed some coffee at Marylou’s, my favorite coffee on the South Shore, and went for a walk by Duxbury Beach. The wind was pretty crazy, but the sunshine kept us warm.

Birthday Duxbury Beach Powder Point Bridge

Birthday Duxbury Beach Powder Point Bridge Bay

When we got back, we took the dogs for a walk around the block. Even though Maddie’s legs are short, she kept up pretty well! My parents ordered Thai food for dinner, which the four of us ate together, but then Matt headed out and back up to Boston. My parents and I watched some Jeopardy and I watched some Thirteen Reasons Why before bed.

 

Sunday, April 16:

Happy Easter Sunday! We started the day by taking the pups for a walk around the neighborhood. My aunt and grandmother came over for Easter, so we had a relaxed lunch outside. Nana had her birthday in late March, so we had a cake to celebrate our birthdays. We brought out some birthday hats and, like most obnoxious dog owners, got the pups involved!

 

Birthday Hat Cockapoo Puppy
Maddie felt very festive, but Chloe felt a little camera-shy in the background, drinking some water probably.

We took the dogs for another walk around the block, but this time, Maddie didn’t have a lot of energy, so my dad had to carry her half of the way. The rest of the evening was pretty low-key; I watched more Thirteen Reasons Why — can you tell I’m obsessed? — and went to bed pretty early. I had just a 2-day week ahead of me, since I’m going on vacation on Wednesday! (Prepare for a blog post or two about my trip once I get back!)

In all, it was an action-packed yet relaxing birthday week filled with excitement, family, and cute fuzzy friends!

Birthday Cockapoo Puppy

 

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Visiting the Harvard Museum of Natural History

Visiting the Harvard Museum of Natural History

This Friday, I was able to take a half day (hooray for vacation rollover!), so I decided to use my time off to do something fun and different. Earlier that weekend, my boyfriend, Matt, found out about the Harvard Museum of Natural History while looking […]

12 Podcasts to Make Your Commute Not Suck

12 Podcasts to Make Your Commute Not Suck

Anyone with a long commute understands how much of a time-suck it is to get to and from work. Just listening to music or sitting there idly makes me feel like I’m wasting so much time in which I could otherwise be productive. In addition, people with […]

What the Hell Happened at the Academy Awards?

What the Hell Happened at the Academy Awards?

Awards season is one of the highlights of every year for me. As a creative individual, I love watching other (more successful) creatives getting rewarded for the fantastic work they do. The Academy Awards is my favorite. I wasn’t able to see many of the movies in time, though La La Land and Manchester by the Sea were two I did see and loved. Overall, the films created in 2016 were artistic, original, and (unlike last year) incredibly diverse. The Academy was set up for success this year. Until the Best Picture category.

I refuse to go to bed early for these things, not because I’m expecting to see anything crazy or dramatic, but because I love watching the acceptance speeches, even of the categories that so many people don’t care about, because these speeches are exclamations of utter joy for the fact that they have reached the peak of their career. So many people went to bed early. I don’t blame them; these things run late! And to many, La La Land had it in the bag. I knew it wasn’t a shoo-in win for La La Land. Actually, for my Oscars pool, I had Moonlight to win up until Friday night, when I actually saw La La Land and totally got some dust in my eye at the end of it. (Honestly, La La Land is the best movie I’ve seen in a long time and potentially might be one of my favorite movies. Weeks ago, I kept saying, “Ugh, I don’t want to see La La Land. I hate old-fashioned musicals.” It’s safe to say I ate my words, after that gag-worthy opening number, of course.)

Anyway, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway read the wrong film name from the envelope in Steve Harvey circa 2016 fashion. Minutes into the La La Land producers’ speeches, it was announced that Moonlight was the real winner, that the wrong envelope was handed to Beatty and Dunaway. We all cringed and gasped as people who worked for their whole lives for this moment had to give up their statuettes to equally well-deserving individuals. I felt sorry for the producers of La La Land but also for the producers of Moonlight, because their moment, the highlights of their professional lives up to that point, were overshadowed by the drama.

So many people don’t understand how this happened, or even how the voting works, as I didn’t before I researched it for a project for my job. In an attempt to make this complicated yet fascinating process clear, I will break down the voting process, from the nominations to the winners, and everything in between.

 

The Academy Is…

And no, I’m not talking about that emo band we loved so much in the mid-2000s. We’re talking about the voters, the ones you can blame for any snubs and the ones you can thank for any deserved victories.

For the 2017 Academy Awards, there were over 6000 voting members of the Academy. Being a member of the Academy isn’t something any film buff can do; there is a long list of requirements, the first (and most simple) being that you need to be highly accomplished in the film industry. Each field of filmmaking involves different quantitative requirements. For example, an actor needs to have credited roles in at least 3 films, directors must have at least 2 screen credits to their names, designers must have been active in the field for a certain amount of time, etc. For anyone interested in learning more about the quantitative requirements, check out this link, which serves as a deep dive into membership requirements.

Prospective members can also gain sponsorship from 2 or more current members if they don’t meet the requirements of their fields. From here, they can be approved or denied by the Academy committee. The most fool-proof way to gain membership is by being nominated for an Oscar the year before, as nominees are instantly considered; however, that’s easier said than done!

 

PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Nomination Formula

Believe it or not, a not-so-glamorous process by PricewaterhouseCoopers is crucial to the execution of this glamorous evening. Accountants from PwC are the forces behind the organizational, analytical, “behind-the-scenes” — no pun intended — tasks in regard to the voting. They are in charge of mailing ballots of eligible nominees to members of the Academy, organizing the results of the nominees, distributing the list of nominees to the Academy members, and calculating the winners. PwC has been in charge of this complicated process for over 80 years. Despite the new technologies that have developed, PwC continues to do this process by hand in order to ensure for accurate results.

The first step from PwC is sending along the ballots of eligible nominees to Academy members. In order to be nominated, films need to meet certain specific requirements.

The film must be:

1. Over 40 minutes in length,

2. Screened for paid admission in Los Angeles County,

3. Screened for at least 7 straight days, and

4. Premiered in a theater, not online or on TV.

Once these ballots are sent, PwC waits for the members to return their votes.

For nominations, voting members are only allowed to vote within their field (i.e. actors can only nominate for acting categories, directors can only nominate for the Best Directing category, and so on). However, all members can vote in the Best Picture category. Members may choose up to 5 nominees, ranked in order from favorite to least favorite. Once the deadline has passed for members to submit their ballots, PwC gets back to work, crunching the numbers of the submitted ballots.

This is where the nomination formula comes into play. PwC uses the term “magic number” in the counting process to refer to the film that receives an amount of votes in each category that will automatically turn it into a definite nominee. The way this formula is broken out is:

total number of ballots ÷ total possible nominees + 1

How can we quantify this in clearer terms? Let’s use the Best Actor category as an example. Let’s pretend there are 600 ballots for each acting category. This category has 5 total possible nominees. Therefore, with the formula in mind, 600 ÷ 5 + 1 = 121. The magic number for this category, then, would be 121 votes. For instance, if Ryan Gosling received 125 votes during this process, then he would have reached the magic number and automatically been considered a nominee.

Excluding any nominees that reach the magic number, counting starts based on the voter’s first choice selection. If one potential nominee reaches the magic number (and is therefore considered a nominee), the votes for this individual are set aside. The possible nominees with the fewest first-choice votes are out of the running; PwC then redistributes these ballots and tallies the data based on these voters’ second-place choices. The ballots are redistributed until all spots are full.

The magic number is different in each category based on how large the group is. For instance, the total number of ballots for a design or technical field may be smaller than the number of ballots for directing and acting. While the magic number for acting categories may be 121 (as used in the example above), the magic number may be 18 votes for a category like Best Costume Design, or other categories with less Academy members in the field.

For a Best Picture nomination, the magic number during the first round of voting is quantified as 8.9% of the votes as first choice. This means that in the 2017 Academy Awards, a nominee only needed 549 members’ first-choice votes to reach the magic number. These are then redistributed until anywhere between 5 and 10 films are chosen.

A ballot can be void if the member votes the same individual or film more than once on the same ballot. If an Academy Member felt very strongly about Michelle Williams winning Best Supporting Actress, writing her name multiple times on the ballot would actually hurt her case, as it would have made this vote invalid. This is why the ranking system is extremely important; PwC and the Academy do not respond to anyone trying to tamper with the system.

 

And the Winner Is…

Once the nominees are chosen and announced, each member of the Academy is allowed to vote on each category, even the ones they were unable to vote in during the nomination vote. However, members are discouraged from voting in categories they don’t understand or categories in which they haven’t seen all of the nominated films. This time, each member chooses 1 vote for each category, rather than ranking them.

However, in the Best Picture category, members rank the choices from most deserving to least deserving. If a film has more than 50% of the first-place votes in the first round of voting, it is an automatic winner, but this is a very rare occurrence. The ballots are stacked according to which film is ranked #1. In the first round of counting this category, the stack with the least amount of votes gets eliminated, and the second-place votes are counted. This redistribution continues until there are 2 films left, in which case, the film with the largest stack is the winner. It is interesting to note that unless the 50% rarity happens, the Best Picture winner might not be the film with the most first-place votes; with this redistribution process, the film with the best median results tends to perform the best.

Since this process is simpler, it only takes PwC about 3 days to calculate the votes. For every category other than Best Picture, there is less of a process, making counting much easier and quicker. Only two senior accountants know the results before the live reveal. These accountants are responsible for preparing the envelopes, bringing them to the theater in suitcases, and handing the envelopes to the presenters backstage.

Is there a voter bias in the Academy Awards voting process? Of course there is, but they are biases that cannot be easily quantified and controlled. Many people believe that the outcomes of the Golden Globes have a large impact on the outcomes of the Oscars. The voting deadline for the Academy Awards occurs after the Golden Globes, so there is a chance that the Golden Globes may influence votes, but that is not something that can be controlled. In addition, voters’ biases based on their backgrounds and ages are a real issue in the Oscars. Voters are predominantly white, predominantly male, and the average age is in the 60s. However, the Academy Awards are making strides to create more diversity in regards to age, race, and gender.

 

Taking the Blame

As the ones responsible for the data and envelopes, PwC has taken full responsibility for the incident. As a backup (if an envelope is lost, for example), PwC makes duplicates of each of the envelopes. It appears that one of the PwC accountants handed the duplicate envelope for Best Actress to Beatty and Dunaway by accident. Yes, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway probably should have said something. I’m sure a stage tech or one of the accountants would have been happy to bring the correct envelope to the pair. That would have saved a lot of awkwardness. But they didn’t, and like many other instances on live television, things go wrong.

PwC has run the Oscars voting process for 83 years, but many are calling for someone else to take PwC’s place, which I personally think is wrong. The process that PwC mastered over the course of 80+ years, a process that has never had an issue before, was disrupted by human error on the part of the PwC accountant in charge of the Best Picture envelope, as well as Beatty and Dunaway for their passiveness in addressing the situation, which can happen when — you know — millions of people are watching your every move.

The Academy Awards will continue to be one of my favorite nights of television of all time, and this moment will go down in history and infamy.

 

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HelloFresh: My Experience

HelloFresh: My Experience

Once, upon a time, there was a girl who fell in love with a microwave. She used it daily and became accustomed to the beautiful (but also irritating) chime. She cooked soup and hot chocolate and the occasional frozen dinner in her microwave. But something […]