Apr 20, 2009
Posted in: Life & Culture
Factoid of the Day: I've never paid for food from the MIT Student Center.
(Secondary factoid: The primary factoid does not indicate that I have ever shoplifted food (foodlifted?) from the Student Center. Just so you know. By “you”, I especially mean “employees and proprietors of the MIT Student Center who happen to read this blog and remember that one time when I wrote about taking too many condiment packets from Cafe Four.”)
Irrelevant confessions aside, I recently verified that the MITblogs readership consists of at least 40% actual humans, leaving an estimated 58% for spambots and 2% for MIT faculty members*.
*Disclaimer: this statistical breakdown of my blog audience is not verified by real statistics. It does, however, accurately reflect the views of the author.
Much to my disappointment, nary a single spambot showed up to the CPW Meet the Bloggers night last Friday, despite the fact that spambots are among my most adoring and persistent fans (why else would they offer me such irresistible deals on authentic Rolexes?). My heart sank when I realized that I wouldn't have the opportunity to purchase cheap pharmaceuticals and improve my credit rating at the same time.
Well, I eventually decided to settle for the spamless company of the MITblogs readership who would hardly be deterred by daunting obstacles like CAPTCHAs and hyperlink filters. Take a close look at this picture, and there's a good chance that you'll find yourself*:
*This sentence is to be interpreted literally in the context of “there's so many blog readers in this picture that the probability of your inclusion is greatly nonzero,” not in the hipster-artistic sense of “look deeply into the soul of this photograph and you will discover who you truly are.” I may be convolutedly metaphorical at times, but I'm not convolutedly weird. Just so you know.
Concurrently present in the room was a group of strangers who looked eerily familiar. All throughout the night I kept thinking, I'd recognize these people if only I could see them with less pixels (50 x 50, perhaps). Also, a multicolored banner above their heads reading “BLOGS: Our Daily Adventures” wouldn't hurt.
36 hours and roughly 3948394 mispronunciations of my name later, CPW strapped on its private jet pack, fired the engines, and gloatingly floated away from MIT, having inflicted a violent wrath of carnage on our anemic sleep schedules. Let it be said that English has not yet invented an idiom worthy of representing the monolithic effort that MIT squeezes out from its semester-weary muscles to give its prefrosh a weekend worth remembering. “The whole nine yards” doesn't come within a mile of apt description.
Thus, in this very paragraph beginning with this very “Thus”, I'm announcing the CPW Photography Contest. In light of my camera's unusual bout of laziness over CPW, I'm asking you, dear CPW-attending readers, to email me your favorite pictures by Sunday, Apr. 26. (CPW-related pictures, that is. I don't want a photo of your dog wearing a Jedi costume.) Photos judged to best represent the rapturous vitality and/or suckiness (but hopefully not the latter) of the CPW experience will be posted on an upcoming blog entry, in which I will take credit for all your pictures and become rich and famous on Flickr*.
*Just kidding, of course. Everyone knows that nobody ever becomes rich on Flickr**.
**In all seriousness, I will give you full credit for your photos***.
***Let's see how many asterisked-footnotes I can post in one blog!****
****Experiment truncated in order to minimize the annoyance of the MIT Admissions staff.
Anyhow, before I decided to stop taking pictures for a semi-forever period of time, I took pictures on Thursday at a dinner with MIT's Undergraduate Women in Physics, of which I am delightedly a member and of which my next-door neighbor Natania is delightedly the current president. The guest of honor was Professor Nergis Mavalvala, whose field of research involves detection of gravitational waves and the concomitantly awesome-sounding phrase, “ripples in the spacetime fabric caused by the motion of compact, massive astrophysical objects.” Not to mention, Professor Nergis herself was incredibly friendly and sincere and honestly curious about my life as a non-compact, non-massive and non-astrophysical object. The faculty at MIT is approachable in general, but Prof. Nergis was like your favorite teacher in grade school always asked you about what you did over the summer and listened to you when you talked about your life. (Except my favorite teacher in grade school never worked on building a space-based gravitational-wave interferometer, as far as I could tell).
Moral of the story: Student groups like UWIP and SPS (Society of Physics Students) in your major are a fantastic way of getting to know faculty members outside of class while scoring free dinners at top-notch restaurants in Cambridge.
Speaking of which, I owe y'all a Sparknotes-style summary of the dinner with Prof. Mavalvala from a culinary perspective.
Setting: Upscale and lavishly overdecorated “international” tapas restaurant that claims on its menu to not be a “tapas restaurant.”
Characters: Myself, Professor Mavalvala, a handful of UWIP members, and practically every plate on the menu.
Exposition: Standard preliminary breadbasket, dressed with oil and olives, and a small plate of Algerian sfiriates (deep-fried Swiss cheese puffs with tomato-cumin and yogurt-cucumber sauces).
Russian mushroom-filled crepe pancakes, topped with sour cream and caviar.
Sizzling garlic shrimp.
Tuna tartare and avocado mousse cornets.
Simple-but-vivid seafood and coconut soup.
Fingerling potatoes with oysters, cr√®me fraiche, salmon roe, and champagne sauce.
Denoument: French banana bread.
To reiterate, I've never paid for food from the MIT student center.
(In case you've forgotten already, send me your best CPW photos by Sunday for a chance to become not really famous.)