Tuesday, September 30, 2008


wow this place speeds up quick, which is partially why there has been a distinct lack of posting. The other partiality (new word!) is because I've been pretty sick. But to keep you all updated, I have two tests this week, had an MRI today, blood labs yesterday and Thursday, Russell Peters is coming on Friday, and I'm a brother at Beta Theta Pi. I'll do a lengthy post about Boston in the fall this weekend.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Awesome=Picasa + Google Earth + iPhone 3G

Finally, I've been able to use one of the neglected (at least for me) features of the iPhone. The ability to make use of the geotagged metadata. (if you just said "huh?": a) you're cooler than me and b) it means the gps tags the location of where you took your pictures.)

Luckily Picasa has the ability to interpret that data, and google earth communicates with Picasa. I couldn't be happier with the results, check it out:
That's a view of pearland with my pictures overlaid on top of their locations, and it's really accurate. It's a surprisingly cool feature that really brings your pictures to life when you look at them, they no longer appear as fragments of memories, but together as one cohesive picture, like a giant memory quilt (that's the only analogy I could think of).

Check out this other one from Boston:
Super cool. I plan on utilizing this feature extensively. (i.e. I'll do this instead of pset -_-.... )

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tale of the Midnight Tool!

Last night I had my first tooling session. In complete honesty, it was entirely my fault, I'd taken the fact that I was pretty good with numbers for granted, and assumed having taken Calc BC (and should've got credit for it) that it would be easy. Indeed, I knew exactly what lecture was about, and glancing over the pset I saw that there weren't too many problems, no big deal right? a bit of review right?

Oh so very wrong.

After working all night on that pset (literally, I got home at 7.a.m. today 0_0) I've realized what exactly makes this place so hard. The problems don't test your knowledge of the subject, they test your understanding. Now if I'd heard that last year I would've said "same thing", but now I understand the difference. Knowing how to do a problem means you can quickly identify similar problems and apply the same generic formula to solve them, the difference is that none of the problems on the homework are like examples in class, but they all use ideas presented in class.

Take the derivative for example, in class you might learn chain rule, product rule, power rule etc etc and find the derivatives for a bunch of functions. Easy huh? of course it is, it's just like what you know. But here, you might have a problem which asks you questions about the behaviour of the derivative, like this one particularly nasty problem last night. Essentially you had to find the "(p+q)th" derivative of a product of two functions raised to the P and Q respectively. The breakthrough that solved it was to realize that the nth derivative of a function with exponent n is n!, and thus the n+q derivative must be 0, because at n it's just a constant. That one little idea that was never explained meant that several terms in a series ended up as zero, and only the last term mattered.

That's the difference, application, a deep understanding. I don't just know how to solve problems, I know how to figure out how to solve them. And though it's ridiculously hard, and sometimes impossibly daunting at times, the best feeling is finally figuring out the one piece you're missing that makes it all fall in place. To make one more analogy, instead of asking you to connect-the-dots to draw a horse, MIT gives you some paper and says "draw the horse", it's up to you to figure out how you want to do that.

In related news, no longer will I be waiting until thursday to look at the second half of the pset. =)

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Preface: Ok first, before you read any of this entry make note of the time. Go ahead, look. Assuming the timestamp is correct (which it isn't always) it should say 3:28 A.M. That's right, 3:28 A.M. exists, and it's ugly. I figured I'll try something new and explain to you first where I am and then how it happened, so as to build suspense.

I'm wet, I'm shivering, and I've been jolted awake. I'm sitting at my computer trying to get warm. Now that I have you (and perhaps your sympathy, in which case sympathy cookies can be mailed to Simmons Hall with my name on them), you're chomping at the bit to know what happened. But rather than dive into let's have a fuzzy flashback to earlier this evening for the sake of contrast.

Misty, my friend from Emerson came over after I went grocery shopping. I'm in a great mood, we're laughing, watching movies, eating pizza, drinking O.J.; seriously great stuff. Eventually it's time for her to go home and it's dark outside, I hear it's cold so I give her one of my jackets. I start to walk her home and it begins to rain. swell. It's not really a big deal because I'm having such a good time with her, and to be honest it makes me look kinda macho to be walking her home while it's raining and me being soaking wet, I don't have my phone so I figure it's no big deal if I get a little wet. Then it starts to really rain and I begin to get very very wet, still not a huge deal, but Misty has her purse and her phone in it. Uh-Oh, better hurry up to the Z-center detour. We get to underneath the overhang and-- the door is locked. Wait what? Why is the door locked? They're doing construction everywhere, this is the only way to get to the student center without going all the way around. After trying to break the lock with my mind (note to self: I don't have telekinesis), we eventually have to walk all the way down to Mass Ave and around to get to la Verdes. Inside I buy my price-gouge-on-a-pole (seriously, who the heck charges $10 for a tiny umbrella? ugh.) and Misty gets an apple, things are getting better.

We decide to take the tunnels as far east as we can. I'd never actually navigated the tunnels so I was fairly uncertain of where I was going but the signs made it pretty easy, plus it was nice and warm down there. We came out at MIT medical, which is literally spitting distance from the Kendall T stop. We board the train and head for Boston.

The walk through the commons while it's raining is actually, daresay, nice. The streets and buildings look really cool disappearing into the clouds and rain. Once we get to her dorm we stay in the lobby for a few minutes while the rain dies down before I head back. I bid her farewell and head off.

The way home is long, the trains keeps making long and random stops, and walking in the rain is far less fun alone at midnight. Simmons hall has mysteriously moved in the middle of the night to be about 12 miles away from the rest of campus, but once I get there I'm free. I get out of my soaking clothes and into dry PJ's and get to bed. Sleep comes quick and I christen it a good day before drifting off to dreams.

Then things get bad, real bad, real fast.

The alarm in our room goes off as the beacon flashes. A woman's voice plays over the speaker over and over:

"There is an emergency in the building. Please head outside via the nearest stairwell, do not use the elevator"

I, with all the grace and finesse of an elephant comind down from an acid trip, put on a shirt to supplement my shorts, and a few drops of saline into my blurry eyes. I head to the stairwell dazed and confused, uncertain of what time it is, what's going on, or what I'm doing. All my floormates are similarly herding like brainwashed cattle( or Moby fans) towards the green light at the bottom of the four flights of stairs. As I get to the door out of the building I witness the worst possible scenario for something like this. It's very cold, very windy

and raining.


The second I step out the door wind whips around the corner of Simmons carrying with it both rain and what I can only suspect are the tears of my fellow residents, soaking me in ice cold sadness. I head as quickly as I can for the overhang off the side of simmons that exists for just such terrible occasions. It's full of people, who HAVE UMBRELLAS. I stand right outside the overhang, clearly miserable and shivering as a guy in a coat with an umbrella looks at me and continues to use his umbrella to shield him from nothing. Seriously? Does it make me a bad person to think that having a coat and umbrella means you should let people who don't have your place in the dry spot? Then comes the waiting:
5 Minutes- I'm shivering pretty hard now

10 Minutes- I'm very much awake and aware of how much it sucks to be outside in the rain while it's cold.

20 Minutes- I'm searching the crowd for a virgin to sacrifice and appease the angered gods.

30 Minutes- Appeasement is futile. God has forsaken Simmons Hall.

45 Minutes- Fireman tells us we're clear to go back in. It was all a false alarm, someone was smoking in the gym.

Let me repeat that. An MIT student, arguably one of the smartest people in the country, was smoking in a room that is very clearly FILLED with smoke detectors. What did they think was going to happen?

That brings me to where I am now, cold, wet, and stalking facebook profiles to find out who lives near the gym who also smokes....

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


My laptop is now connected to a-- ready?

30" computer monitor.

that's right. 30. Freaking. Inches.

And how much did I pay for this?



Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Class Schedule

Thus far. Though, 18.01 is definitely going to change to either 18.01A, or 18.014, I haven't decided which yet. Not too bad, no class before 11, one on friday, I could get used to that. =)