The Chicago Journal

These 18 Travel Movies Will Help You Explore New Places amidst the Pandemic Boredom Fever

Travel Movies – The pandemic has brought us so much anxiety and boredom. Our plans have been canceled and we cannot think of other ways to spend most of our time. Thanks to technology we are able to cope with our stress and frustrations during the lockdown but a good movie can resolve our boredom. 

These are the movies that will take you places. 

1. Roman Holiday (1953)

Entirely shot in Rome, this classic black and white film starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck will have you longing for an epic romance in a far-off city. This fairy tale between royalty and a commoner–a European princess and an American reporter–paired with humor will not disappoint.

2. Midnight in Paris (2011)

Have you ever felt nostalgia for an era you didn’t live through? This movie tackles that idealized yearning through a screenwriter, played by Owen Wilson, who finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s every day at midnight while on a trip to Paris with his fiancée’s family.

3. Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

Going on a tour of Italy after you discover your husband is cheating on you seems like the right response. In this rom-com, a new divorcée does just that, and takes it one step further by impulsively buying a rural Tuscan villa to start her new life in. It’s a struggle at first, but meeting a hot Italian man makes up for it.

4. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

The vibrant set designs alone will draw you to this film. Set in the 1930s, it follows the concierge and lobby boy of a popular European ski resort where the service goes above and beyond–including meeting the sexual needs of some of its guests. When one of the concierge’s lovers dies, he is left with a priceless painting and becomes the suspect in her murder.

5. Spectre (2015)

In the 24th James Bond film, as with most of the others, the British secret agent crosses several borders with each location fully action-packed. The film opens in Mexico City and hits Austria, Italy, Morocco, and, of course, the U.K. throughout.

6. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

ICYMI, this rom-com features gorgeous views of Singapore and Malaysia. It follows Rachel Chu, who discovers her boyfriend Nick comes from a filthy rich family when she accompanies him to Singapore for a wedding. How can a girl find a man like that? Asking for a friend.

7. Into The Wild (2007)

After graduating college, Christopher McCandless decides to forgo a profitable career and money from his wealthy parents in favor of a solo journey to the Alaskan wilderness. Along the way, he stops in the wheat fields of South Dakota, rafts down the Colorado River, and encounters people from all walks of life.

8. Before Sunrise (1995)

The first in a trilogy, this film hits that brief daydream that sweeps over you when you notice an attractive passerby: forging a romantic connection with a total stranger while in a public place in a beautiful city. The spontaneity! The romance! What more could you want?

9. Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

You could watch the 2017 remake of this whodunit, but the 1974 version hits different with its ensemble cast who portray a whole range of murder suspects from an American widow, to a Russian princess, to a Hungarian diplomat, with a Belgian detective at the helm of it all. IMO, it makes train travel look exceedingly glamorous.

10. P.S. I Love You (2007)

This movie will have you in full blown tears, so make sure you have tissues, a pillow, or shoulder to cry on. It follows a grieving widow who receives letters from her dead husband for her 30th birthday that and are designed to help her move on.

11. Lion (2016)

Lion follows the astonishing true story of an Indian boy who got lost on a train, ended up miles from home, had to survive on his own, and then eventually got adopted by an Australian couple. Decades later, he uses Google Earth to track down his family.

12. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Consider Call Me By Your Name a chance to ride bikes through the countryside of Lombardy, Italy, read books in age-old piazzas, and discover archeological finds in the waters of Lake Garda. Also, Timothée Chalamet. Need I say more?

13. In Bruges (2008)

Two hit men end up having to hide out in Bruges in this crime comedy. One really hates the small Belgian city, and the other finds the beauty in it. They encounter everyone from tourists to locals, and there’s even a potential budding romance for one.

14. Lost in Translation (2003)

This rom-com follows the love story between an American actor having a mid life crisis and an American woman who accompanies her husband on a business trip to Tokyo. If anything, it will make you fall in love with Japanese capital if you don’t already have it on your travel bucket list.

15. Queen of Katwe (2016)

This biographical drama tells the story of 10-year-old Phiona and her family in Uganda. When she becomes quite taken with the game of chess, her skills give her the chance to escape poverty.

Trendy Must-Have-Gadgets of 2020

Gadget runs our lives. Without these innovations, we feel utterly incomplete and immobile.  Spend your life before the year right with these super-useful and awesome tech gadgets that will boost your productivity, stress, and will give you more reason to stay tech-savvy. 

Yep, gadgets are getting weirder and extremely useful at the same time. And here’s the personal pick for the gadgets that you might need.


Yes, it’s almost 2020 and we still need AA and AAA batteries! Hence, it’s so handy and affordable! You will gonna love these because they are so convenient to charge up — no need for some separate charger sitting on the desk. Capacity seems good, and they are durable, and the perfect solution for those devices that need an AA or AAA battery.


Earbuds for walkathons and such are everything and we do enjoy high-quality audio products when I’m relaxing. And over the past few weeks, I’ve been busy testing a lot of new stuff and the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro have become my go-to favorites.

Why it has the potential to become everyone’s favorite? Well, not only is the audio quality simply delicious — like ice cream, but for your ears — but they are comfortable, have a long battery life (the buds have 8 hours of battery life, the charging case taking that up to 32 hours, and the case can be recharged using either USB-C or a Qi-certified charger), and they have a fast-charge feature (10 minutes in the case gives them 2 hours of charge).


This device is pure revolutionary that compliments the MacBook MagSafe connectors from the retro days. They saved me hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in repairs and new MacBooks by preventing me from dragging my expensive yet fragile laptop to the ground thorough my occasional chimp-like clumsiness. But my MagSafe MacBooks became old and I eventually had to upgrade to a newer model featuring USB-C connectors.

Fragile USB-C connectors. USB-C connectors that cling on enough to allow my MacBook to be pulled off a table and placed into Isaac Newton’s cold, indifferent hands.

Then a reader pointed me in the direction of the 20-pin USB-C magnetic breakaway connector. I was skeptical, not only because they were sold under no-name branding, but also because of the price. $25 seemed cheap.

But they are great. Fantastic. I have accumulated quite a collection, and they are perfect not only for MacBooks but any gadget with a USB-C port. The magnet is strong enough to keep the two parts of the connector snugly attached, yet will give way if the cable is tugged hard enough to endanger the attached device.

I recently discovered that there is also a version with a USB-C cable attached if you want a more compact solution.

The adapter supports 100W (20V/5A) charging, which makes it perfect for all MacBooks and other laptops and USB-C devices, and even supports up to 10Gbps data transfer and 4K@60Hz video output.


 Not the smallest — it measures 4.7- by 2.9- by 1.6-inches. Not the lightest — it weighs in at a hefty 17.6 ounces. Not the cheapest — the retail price is $191.99. But if you travel with a laptop, or you carry several devices around with you, this is the best portable power bank I’ve tested.

Not only does it have a whopping 27,000mAh capacity (99.9Wh, so it is good for most airlines for travel), it has a 100W output that can charge a 15-inch MacBook Pro at full speed, adding an amazing 8 hours to the runtime. It can also recharge an iPhone XS seven times before it requires recharging.

The power bank also features a low-power mode for recharging low-power devices such as smartwatches, Bluetooth earphones, and fitness bands (many cheaper power banks will switch off if the load is too low).

With two PD-enabled USB-C ports and two USB-A ports, the Zendure SuperTank is a great charging hub for multiple devices.

There’s also a super-handy LCD showing the charge levels.

The carry case is also small and lightweight, and the call quality using these is second to none.


It took me a while to become convinced that I needed a bit of tech to help me keep track of my keys and wallet, but a few weeks on the road with the Tile Pro on my keys, Tile Stickers in my backpack and luggage, and Tile Slim in my wallet converted me. It’s the sort of tech that you forget is there until you need it.

Also has the added advantage that I can use a Tile to find my lost iPhone!

Metamorphosis: Droplets can be transferred through Sound Waves for Rewritable Lab-on-a-Chip Devices

Droplets – The new breed of engineers has demonstrated a versatile microfluidic lab-on-a-chip that uses sound waves to create tunnels in oil to digitally manipulate and transport droplets. It has developed vibrating transducers that create tunnels in a thin layer of oil to transport droplets across a chip with no amount of hint and traces. 

The people this successful innovation are the engineers at Duke University. They have demonstrated a versatile microfluidic lab-on-a-chip that uses sound waves to create tunnels in oil that will transfer droplets effortlessly. The technology could form the basis of a small-scale, programmable, rewritable biomedical chip that is completely reusable to enable on-site diagnostics or laboratory research. Tony Jun Huang, the William Bevan scientific fields such as clinical diagnostics and large-scale compound screening have traced back the need of modern bio biomedical research and pharmaceutical industries, these systems are bulky, expensive and do not handle small volumes of liquids well.

“Our new system achieves rewritable routing, sorting and gating of droplets with minimal external control, which are essential functions for the digital logic control of droplets,” said Huang.

The newly improved and developed lab-on-a-chip systems have been able to fill this space but still limited due to surface absorption since the devices rely on solid surfaces. The lapses can lead to contamination and will leave traces.

However, the new lab-on-a-chip platform uses a thin layer of inert, immiscible oil to stop droplets from leaving behind any trace of themselves. Just below the oil, a grid of piezoelectric transducers vibrate when electricity is passed through them. Just like the surface of a subwoofer, these vibrations create sound waves in the thin layer of oil above them.

These sound waves form complex patterns when they bounce off the top and bottom of the chip as well as when they run into one another. By meticulously planning the design of the transducers and controlling the frequency and strength of the vibrations causing the waves, the researchers are able to create vortices that, when combined, form tunnels that can push and pull droplets in any direction along the surface of the device.

“The new system uses dual-mode transducers, which can transport droplets along x or y axis based on two different streaming patterns,” said Huang. “This is a big step up from our previous system, which simply created a series of dimples in the oil to pass droplets along on a single axis.”

Aiding Huang in the creation of this upgraded system was Krishnendu Chakrabarty, the John Cocke Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke, and his PhD student Zhanwei Zhong. The pair helped design the electronics at the heart of the new lab-on-a-chip demonstration, and greatly upgraded and miniaturized the wire connections, controllers and other hardware used in the system.

By using dual-mode transducers, the researchers were able to move droplets along two axes while simultaneously reducing the complexity of the electronics four-fold. They were also able to reduce the operating voltage of the transducers three-to-seven times lower than previous system, which allowed it to simultaneously control eight droplets. And by introducing a microcontroller to the setup, the researchers were able to program and automate much of the droplet movement.

The researchers show off the capabilities of their new device in a series of videos. In one, a droplet is quickly whisked around the exterior of a square. Others show droplets coming to a “T” intersection and turning right or left, and the creation of a “logic gate” that can either interrupt a droplet’s movement along a corridor or allow it to pass through.

The ability to control droplets in a manner similar to the logic systems found on a computer chip is essential to a wide variety of clinical and research procedures.

“Our next step is to combine the miniaturized radio-frequency power-supply and control board designed by Professor Chakrabarty’s team for large-scale integration and dynamic planning,” said Huang. “We’re also planning to integrate the ability to split droplets into two without having to touch them.”

The results appear online on June 10 in the journal Science Advances.

How Did Other Countries Combat Coronavirus?

Combat Coronavirus – New Zealand Taiwan, Australia, Singapore, Jordan, and the Republic of Georgia is getting on the finish line against the coronavirus. Good news, these countries were able to “flatten the curve” and swoop the threats. But what made them win over this deadly virus? The success includes including preexisting health systems, bureaucratic agility, and early preparation to prevent unlikely circumstances.  

Other countries have argued that they ever-ready to fight with the pandemic, but no progress at all. However, Germany has combined with the failure of other autocratic countries and learned the lesson. Indeed, the crisis arose in part because autocratic China leaving the world in toll and in the furnace.

This leads to an unending debate on which type of government will give more rapid response against the virus.  Points were also raised related to the argument that centralized governments are better able to confront crises such as the coronavirus. But what type of government that effectively combats with the coronavirus? Likewise, it will indicate that the countries best able to provide local public goods—including primary health care, critical during a pandemic—are not those that are most centralized. Rather, they are ones that strike “a fine balance” between the powers of central governments and those at the state and local level. Additionally, countries with strong regional and local governments—and especially federal countries like the U.S.—are at a disadvantage. 

Moreover, centralized—and autocratic—countries are coronavirus success stories. Interestingly, however, these tend to be relatively small countries with very rational policy-making government, such as Jordan and especially Singapore. Enormous and powerful countries like China and Russia is also doing a good job. However, the larger a country’s territory and population, the more likely the number of contamination will increase. Moreover, strong regional and local governments can serve as a backstop when national policy is insufficient, limiting the damage of central misgovernment. Also, centralized governments like France and Singapore had also succeeded so far and were able to flatten the curve. And true enough it’s no longer surprising that most countries that have paved their way in getting in control of the coronavirus like Germany, Taiwan, and Australia.  

U.S. states, for example, have been forced to compete for personal protective equipment, which has generated inefficiencies and a bidding war. And some places have begun to reopen businesses against the advice of experts. If this move causes a spike in transmission, it could spill over into other states that have taken more risk-averse stances.

A more decentralized approach to government will facilitate the targeting of policy to the needs of different locales. When the pandemic is concentrated in certain areas of a single country, for example, it may make sense for sub-national authorities to decide when to reopen. And the better information and stronger accountability enjoyed by local and regional governments are likely to matter even more during the economic recovery.

Meanwhile in United States, where the Trump administration’s inconsistency, incorrect information, and slow reaction time arguably made the U.S. in the middle of hell of coronavirus plus  the social protest around the country. But on the flip side, other states including California, Oregon, and Washington have succeeded in limiting local cases enough that they are now shipping ventilators to other states that badly needs it and lacks resources. 

Also in France, the regional and city governments have filled their lapses for the perceived failures of the central government in Paris. But the country’s highly centralized political institutions have put strong limits on their freedom of action. Their lesson-learned scheme helped them to combat against the virus.