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As Winter Melts by Paul B. '11

things are gonna change so fast

February 3, 2009

Today, winter left Boston. I woke up and found that the snow had melted, the ice had mostly thawed away. The streets were clear and the air was warm. I walked around without a hat or gloves and didn’t feel the slightest chill.

Things change quickly, sometimes.

One thing that hasn’t changed is my personal proclivity towards “doing things”: whether it’s taking on a new project, writing a computer program, or putting together a well-organized spreadsheet. I’m always looking for ways I can improve what already exists, always eager to make progress on the goals and projects I care about. But that attitude has drawbacks, too – sometimes I get easily frustrated by lack of progress, or by people who seem more content to talk rather than do. On more than one occasion, I’ve taken on more responsibilities than I could actually handle – and I’ve been trying especially hard to avoid doing this in the future.

For a while, I’ve been trying to come up with a word to succinctly describe this aspect of my personality. A few weeks ago, I realized that the word I was looking for was results-driven, or maybe just driven. Either way, I think it fits.

I think it’s this part of my personality that’s secretly behind my not-so-secret love for the Internet. Things just happen so much faster online, with a sense of immediacy and a let’s-do-it-because-we-can attitude that you rarely find in “real” life, except maybe in start-ups. And in a sense, I think many of the attitudes of the computing culture has spilled over into the culture and attitudes of MIT in general (which probably explains why most MIT students are compelled to check their email at least once every hour, on average). Or perhaps you could argue that it was the culture of MIT, which provided the cradle of the Internet, that spilled over into the Web culture at large.

More likely, the truth oscillates somewhere between those two poles. I feel that the culture of MIT is, almost by definition, in a constant state of flux, subtly altered by every new technological trend or novel school of scientific thought, shifting slightly but perceptibly throughout the years as each new class of students arrives and makes their mark upon the Institute. By saying this, I don’t mean to say that administrators, and professors, and all the other hard-working individuals at MIT don’t make their mark as well – but the changes those people bring to MIT often end up being many levels abstracted from what students actually experience and do “on the ground,” as it were. And so the most significant changes students tend to see and care about are, as far as I can tell, those that occur in their living groups or their clubs.

Originally, I wasn’t entirely sure what this entry was going to be about, or why I was writing. Now I think I know what pushed me to write it: my fraternity initiated our latest pledge class last December, and I still hadn’t fully come to grips with what that meant. In my opinion, initiating someone into a fraternity means more than simply completing a rite of passage. It means entrusting them with your traditions and your secrets – with the very future of your house and brotherhood. Sooner than I can possibly imagine, the people I know of as freshmen now will become sophomores, juniors, seniors, ascending the totem pole of experience and responsibility.

And tonight, I realize this and accept this truth completely and wholly, just as the brothers who initiated me last year must have, and I begin to look forward to another year, another class of MIT students who will go out into the world and do things.

19 responses to “As Winter Melts”

  1. Anonymous says:

    @Paul: You repeat the line about your love for the internet.

  2. Hey,

    It’s a nice blog. Though I don’t know you, but I think you are a very kind person.

    Helping others is awesome. Keep it up =)

    Ahmed

  3. I am 150% sure that you write poetry!
    “As winter melts” probably came pretty naturally to you.

    @charmcaster:

    1.different people enjoy different writing styles
    For instance, in this blog, what caught my eye were: hyphenated modifiers, metaphors, interesting/succinct adjectives, parenthetical phrases, punctuation (like colon and dashes to create little tension/be dramatic), the use of quotation marks for irony and emphasis, and
    transitions (seriously take a look at how smooth it goes:”
    Today,…
    Things change quickly, sometimes.
    For a while,…
    Either way,…
    More likely,…
    Originally,…
    And tonight,…)

    2.As far as content is concerned:
    Most of paul’s blogs are reflective!
    They seem to start off as though by instinct … and then the readers come to a ‘realisation’ point toward the end.

    I like Yan’s blog too… (mouth-watering food pics/interesting things about MIT/adjective-parade) But I just look over them, I don’t feel like scrutinizing them…
    it’s a matter of taste I guess

  4. Anonymous says:

    “Today, winter left Boston.”

    Not according to the forecasters! And not according to me, either, as I look out the window this very second to observe the mess of falling snow.

  5. Paul says:

    @deng – I definitely think most members of FSILGs care just as much or more than I do. I see that level of caring exhibited in all sorts of ways – from things as small as wearing their house’s letters around campus, to experiences as large and defining as FSILG Rush in the fall.

    @Anon (12:01) – Yeah, apparently I blogged too soon. I was very sad when I stepped outside today. It’s turned completely white again.

    @Anon (8:44) – Thanks, fixed. smile

  6. Anonymous says:

    There’s been a lot of really awesome posts lately. I think this one qualifies. smile

    Internet culture really is like life on fast-forward :D

  7. charmcaster says:

    yea..this ones soo boring…i had no interest in reading it at all…………take a page of yan’s book paul………………i really mean it…..seriously,dont blog jsut for sake of blogging……blog becoz ur passionate about it…….lol……..

  8. Tiffany says:

    @ charmcaster: If it’s SO boring then stop reading it and don’t leave a comment.

  9. deng says:

    snow and ice melted there? so jealous.. haha… I’m south of MIT and I still have ice on my doorsteps that I slip over every other morning

    time has gone quickly. I’m more than half way through my senior year and I haven’t even begun to feel like a senior yet… lol. I guess that’s what it’s like when you always have something to do and not much time to do it

    btw, do you think most people in fsilgs care so much about their fsilgs as you show?

  10. Ahmed says:

    Something tells me that charmcaster would be right at home in the land of Idiocracy where people don’t have the intelligence or attention span required to watch any TV show more complex than “Ow! My Balls!”

  11. for a charmcaster, you are not very charming…

  12. Paul says:

    In an attempt to stop things before the name-calling gets too out of hand, I’ve removed the recent aggressive and offensive comments. Just wanted to let you know.

  13. Ian says:

    @deng: Totally. I live at pika, an ILG, and it’s definitely a place and a group I care about a great deal.

  14. Snively says:

    Something tells me that Ahmed is being unnecessarily assaultive.

  15. charmcaster says:

    you can say that again….and ahmed, if you are dumb enough to watch that pathetic excuse for mavie called idiocracy, i think we all know where you fall into.

    So, unless you have anything more enlightening to say,………..

  16. charmcaster says:

    I’m sorry paul, i guess I went a little overboard..I apologise………

  17. AK says:

    Hey,
    I got a score of 108 out of 120 in Toefl(ibt).Is it good enough for getting admitted as a transfer student in MIT?

  18. Liz says:

    Hello!
    From reading your blog posts it is obvious you really like poetry, Paul. I wonder, do you read T.S. Eliot? I think he is amazing!

  19. Mel says:

    I liked the movie Idiocracy… :0)