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A Week of Chocolate and Octagons by Anthony R. '09

Some thoughts and some pictures.

Good evening, America.

I could give you another cool story laced with pictures and captions. I’ll start with some thoughts.

We’re almost halfway through term, and it feels like I just got here a week or two ago. Time flies here like I’d never fathomed — before you know it, the day, week, month, whatever, is over. I have a strange feeling my entire four years here will feel like that, a mere blip on the radar. And while there’s such an abundance of amazing things to do, both on campus and around the entire Boston area, I sort of feel guilty having fun if I’ve got a whole bunch of work backed up and waiting for me. (Yes, I highlight some cool things here and there on the blog, but I’d be doing a lot more of them were I all caught up.) So, it really doesn’t feel like I’ve done a whole lot as a result, lending to my feeling that I haven’t been here long. At the same time, my two-plus year absence from school had a profound effect on separating schoolwork and consequence. A fair bit of adjustment this semester has gone to recovering my study skills… I fully empathize (in however limited a capacity) with the difficulty adults face when going back to school after a long absence. It is hard — not the level of difficulty of the work, but simply jogging your brain again to compute integrals and electron configurations, getting all the work done before the deadlines and actually feeling compelled to put forth the effort for paper, pens, and grades. Most everyone I know seems to be doing reasonably well, so I think it’s just something that will go away with time. Folks, if you take a gap year, try to keep your mind fresh with some school-oriented things once in a while. :-)

We’ve had some prefrosh on hall and around here and there. Prefrosh are what we call applicants and admitted students who aren’t yet freshmen. A pretty logical moniker: “frosh” is short for “freshman,” and “pre-“… well, you get the idea. It’s interesting to think about the admissions process again, even though that’s sort of the focus of this blog, after all. I recall it as being one of the more trying processes I’ve endured, with the anxiety of not really knowing where you’ll be n months down the road. Luckily, these things always have happy endings, even if you don’t end up at your first-choice college. Just have some faith in the process, remember that admissions officers are real people too, and try to be as true to yourself as you can. Don’t portray yourself in your application as who you think MIT wants to see — show them who you really are. Be original and have fun, and keep in mind that the world of fussing over grades and AP scores and class rank is a very small, incomplete one. :-) Go watch a movie, roll in the grass, or have a milkshake made with real ice cream. If you live in an environment that actually has four distinct seasons, go look at the leaves sometime. While you’re waiting for your admissions decision, go make a snowman and send me a picture!

So while you’re doing all of that, let me explain (beyond your math teacher’s geometric definition) what an Octagon is.

Simply put, an Octagon is a concrete mass used in capacities of construction and event planning. It is used for such things as the base of a sign post. These objects are immensely heavy and tend to make a tremendous noise when rolled or moved.

Enter the dilemma. We keepers of Octagons live on floors of a dormitory that rest above ground level, meaning there are floors of residents below us, of course. Octagons tend to make the entire building shake, or at least they inspire a loud clatter as they thump-thump from one end of the hall to another. We’re simply transporting our construction materials from one end of the hall to another, we say. They disagree and think that we’re out to make their lives a bit noisier.

So, keep all of that in mind for later.

On Monday, my transportation seminar (1.A24) group took a field trip to the MBTA Operations Facilities for both the Subway lines and the Silver Line bus rapid transit system. This included a ride on the Silver Line to Fish Pier, where we had dinner at Nick’s No-Name Restaurant. It was very interesting, and we were able to see how controllers manage the hectic load of Boston’s four subway lines from afar. It’s essentially the public-transit equivalent to air traffic control. Our professor, Nigel Wilson, knows the systems well and gave us a running commentary on what we were seeing and experiencing. Overall, it was an excellent evening. Thanks to Jonathan Goldberg, here are some pictures from our observation point in the subway facility.

Now… at East Campus, every Friday, one of the ten halls hosts a FAC, or Friday Afternoon Club. This is a study break event in the dorm’s Talbot Lounge where snacks or refreshments are served, usually with a theme in mind. It was Tetazoo’s turn last Friday, and to celebrate our tradition of keeping Octagons and as a preservation of pride, we hosted an Octagon FAC. Replete with octagonal pizzas, banana desserts, and potato crisps, a good and spirited time was had by all.

A look at the backstage cooking act leads to a run-in with Tetazoo hallmates Noah ’09 and Nick ’08. They’re warming pizzas, shaving off parts of crust to form octagonal shapes, and generally snacking it up when nobody’s watching. ;-)

Stephanie ’09 arranges bananas and whipped cream into octagonal patterns.

Jo ’09 and Nick ’08 arrange octagonal pizza slices on various surfaces for dormwide consumption…

Backstage, Ryan ’07 salutes various hallmates’ pizza-warming prowess.

Our geometrical farce attracted quite the crowd.

Unfortunately, it also attracts unsavory characters who find octagonal pizza works best protruding from certain facial orifices. Matt ’09 demonstrates.

If on some week we find that we don’t eat enough, we tend to round up a bunch of folks from the hall and head out to some mutually agreeable chowplace. The Pour House, just across the river in Boston, has half-price burgers on Saturdays from 6pm-10pm. And if you don’t wake up until late in the day, sometimes dinner ends up being your first meal. Needless to say, we availed ourselves.

Ten people set out for burgers on the #1 Bus in front of Building 7 on Mass Ave. Here, Jo ’09, Larissa ’08, Ben ’09, Mitch ’03, and Kevin ’06 seek shelter at the bus stop.

Forrest Green [yes, his real name] ’08 chomps a big one in the basement of The Pour House.

Thanks to half-price Saturday, I ordered both a Vermont (cheeseburger) and a honey mustard chicken sandwich. I think I’ll have to do this more often.

We’ve already established that time moves differently at MIT. Sometimes we’ll eat dinner one night and save dessert for the next. Tonight, we enjoyed a Chocolate Tasting event courtesy of a hall parent. *Sixty* pounds of chocolate were employed for this event, calling upon the hall’s most venerable gastronomes to rate various types of chocolate on their floral, fruity, nutty, smoky, moldy, hammy, “rotting fruit,” and acidic qualities.

In the back, Alex and Ben thoughtfully contemplate the task set before them.

A closer look at the “Varietals”…

and the Bittersweet.

A careful event participant selects her rating choices.

I have a prefrosh staying with me through the MIT Admissions overnight visit program. David from Maryland samples some chocolate — I think he likes it.

With David in tow, I visited Random Hall, one of MIT’s more distinctive dormitories. Known for its intensely quantitative residents, Random houses less than a hundred undergrads and is located near Central Square on Mass Ave.

I met with Nelson ’09, creator of the legendary Sexy Nerd Bot, who had died his hair green just hours earlier.

I love the hair style, Nelson. ;-)

I chatted with Mike ’09 in the basement, along with Antti, a prefrosh visiting from Finland. Antti is on the left.

After stopping by Mike’s room upstairs for a quick tour of his computing den, we headed back to Tetazoo where a couple of chocolate scavengers were showing up late to the party.

Noah ’09 and Greg ’09 are seasoned chocolate connoisseurs. Clearly, from these confident facial expressions, we can infer their wide backgrounds in dessert science.

And then I did some homework and went to bed. Good luck, early applicants!

8 responses to “A Week of Chocolate and Octagons”

  1. Katy says:

    I’m terribly worried about the lack of fresh vegetables in your entry.

  2. Anthony says:

    Fresh vegetables, while available and copious, aren’t interesting and comprise the stuff of more boring mealtimes smile

    These events are more special occasions and they don’t really make up full meals.

  3. Ruta Baga says:

    As official representative of the Society for the Advancement of Legumes At Dinner, (SALAD),lettuce say that we are steamed over your crude-ite remarks above referencing us as “boring”!!! Our spirits have been squashed!

  4. Catherine says:

    Haha, looks like it was a blast. =)

  5. Sarah says:

    Hello there Anthony. I do not believe I have ever met you, but… I have met your Octagon (or perhaps from a distance it was someone else’s from Tetazoo). Let’s just say I live on 2E. I also happen to live in that freshman double right under the supposed home of said Octagon.
    Just thought I would say ‘hi’ from the underneath end of all these Octagon-rolling adventures.
    Well, enjoy your Octagon and have a good evening.
    -Sarah

  6. Laura says:

    Ha. I’ve heard stories.

    About octagons. And resident frequencies…

    Hrmmm….

  7. Oh, that octagon. *shakes fist*

    We need to hang out more.

  8. y2kit says:

    Yummy delicious! But one question, how come you look so different from the picture at the MIT homepage? In fact, I nearly can’t recognise you!