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MIT student blogger Paul B. '11

Birthday Boy Ben by Paul B. '11

Birthday explosion inside.

As you may already be aware, today is Ben’s birthday! I won’t embarrass him by telling you all how old he is =), but I will tell you the story of how my friends and I unleashed a birthday explosion in his office.

So in case you didn’t know, I should probably tell you that Ben is pretty much one of the most popular guys on campus. (Not that we don’t love Matt and Nance and all the other admissions officers, of course.) Not only does he admit us to MIT, he actually really cares about us after we’re admitted, as well. His office is almost always open to us (assuming he’s around! He’s a busy guy, after all), whether it’s to chat, to get advice or an ego-boost, or even to crash on his couch. And so a few of my friends and I decided to repay Ben for all his awesomeness by throwing a mini-birthday party in his office.

The preparations began last Wednesday night. My friends Tina, Teresa, and Caroline (all freshmen, like me) baked Ben several trays of cupcakes at their dorm, Senior Haus. I was invited to the baking party, but ultimately it was decided all of us would be better off if I didn’t come. ;-)

Thursday morning (which was, incidentally, the birthday of Sam, Laura, AND Ben Jones’ Mom), we set out on our missions. Conveniently enough, my UROP is in Building E25, almost right next to Senior Haus (check for yourself here); so instead of taking a lunch break, I just hopped over to Senior Haus and helped Caroline and Tina carry the cupcakes and several LaVerde’s bags full of decorations to Ben’s office, Room 3-107. Unfortunately, we realized that Ben was probably in his office, so we decided that I would be the “distraction” and get Ben to leave 3-107, while Caroline and Tina snuck in and decorated.

Basically, I knocked on the door (you remember how Matt talked about the admissions officers being locked in the dungeon? Well, 3-107 isn’t actually a dungeon, but the room really is locked), was let in by one of the Friendly Admissions Officers, and barged into Ben’s office – interrupting the very important letter he was writing. The conversation went something like this:

Me: “Hey Ben! Want to have coffee?”
Ben: “Hey! Well, I have three letters to finish for Stu…”
Me: “Aw, Ben…”
Ben: “…and a meeting at eleven…”
Me: “Ben, come on…”
Ben: “Do you want to set a date?”
Me: “Okay, Ben, you want to come get coffee with me.”
Ben: *getting up to leave* “Aw, Tina put you up to this, didn’t she?”
Me: *awkward* “Tina? Who’s Tina?”

So we took off down the Infinite Corridor towards the Lobby 7 coffeeshop. Unfortunately, Ben proved to be far more crafty than I had expected and actually glanced back down the Infinite towards his office…so he caught sight of Caroline and Tina as they stealthily knocked on 3-107 with their bags of decorations (and were also let in by another Friendly Admissions Officer).

That unfortunate sighting notwithstanding, I managed to delay Ben for about five more minutes (he bought me a cookie from Bosworth’s, which was delicious, although I felt bad because he bought it for me and I really didn’t plan on that happening – just goes to show you how nice Ben is) before he headed back towards 3-107. Because he’s Ben, I couldn’t really stop him, so instead I just dashed into Ben’s office to help Caroline and Tina with the decorating. The resulting hilarity is best described with picture evidence, so pardon me while I switch into photoblog-mode. (*bzzzzz* *crash* *bang*)

Okay, we’re good to go. Transform and roll out!

Friendly Admissions Officer John helps Tina set up the paper chain.

Caroline made the snowflakes.
The stainless steel contraption you see is actually part of the steam tunnel that runs beneath Ben’s office, which explains why Ben’s office is 80 degrees Fahrenheit even with the AC turned all the way up. Actually, the steam tunnel in question gets so hot that the hacking community has dubbed it “Hell.” Since Ben’s office is above the steam tunnel, and we all know Ben is God, I personally believe that this makes perfect sense. (Even though Ben, humble as always, is quick to say that God is far cooler than he could ever be. Aw.)

Ben spies on us through the window. Fortunately, he seems amused.

Tina likes sitting behind Ben’s desk. It makes her feel powerful. Right, Tina?

Ben’s shelves are one of the more interesting parts of his office. My favorite parts are the “Varsity Blogging” poster, his turtle collection, and the picture of one of Ben’s sons in the pumpkin costume. =)

We hang a warning sign on Ben’s door.

Ben’s desk is ready for the birthday boy to be let back in. The cupcakes are actually made with authentic cream cheese frosting, which is apprently Ben’s favorite. As Tina said, “What Ben wants, Ben gets!”

Tina: “You realize you’re locking your boss out of his office, don’t you?”
Me: “I’m gonna get fired for this…”

He likes it! (My job is saved!)

Ben and Tina share a post-celebration hug.

Teresa arrives and gets a hug too!

I was also hugged, but no one though to take a picture of that. Instead, we have a quote:

Ben: “Can I hug you?”
Me: “Of course you can!”
Tina: “Paul likes hugs.”
Me: *grin and nod*

Snazzily-dressed Matt sings “Happy Birthday” to Ben.

Also, a funny story: at one point, Ben accidentally knocked one of the cupcakes to the floor. Tina suggested, “Give it to someone you don’t like!” Upon which Ben instantly called out, “Matt!” Ah, Ben, you’re such a kidder…

Obligatory group shot. From left to right, Tina, Ben, Me, and Caroline.

Another group shot.
To be honest, this was pretty much the highlight of my week. Sure, IAP and UROP and everything are awesome – but it’s not everyday you get to surprise one of the greatest admissions officers in the world. =)

So happy birthday, Ben! You guys should all take a minute and wish him happy birthday too. As if he weren’t popular enough already. ;-)

65 responses to “Birthday Boy Ben”

  1. Akshay K says:

    Hey Paul
    I must say your way of writing is very good. While reading the post I felt like I was watching all this happen. And the pics just added to the beauty of this post.
    Why don’t you write a book?

  2. anion says:


  3. Shruthi says:

    HAPPPPPPPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Tanmay says:

    First for the first time!!

  5. Sam says:

    I still think the best birthday present is the tens of Facebook wall posts you get from people you haven’t talked to in months and years.

    Like that one time you tripped over that one guy’s feet in a hallway when he was leaning on a brick wall in that maroon shirt and burgundy corduroy pants. Like a chameleon, he was asking for someone to awkward stumble over his well-camouflaged attire.

    Anyway, since it’s a typical reader-of-the-MIT Admissions Blogs creeper kind of thing to do, I tried to read everything on the white board in Ben’s office. Haha, don’t pretend that you’re not going to try to do the same thing now.

  6. Tanmay says:

    A (very)^(tan pi/2) birthday Ben!

  7. milena '11 says:

    Awww that was so cute of you guys!

  8. BB says:


  9. Tanmay says:

    I am so sorry, I left out the most important thing!

    A (very)^(tan pi/2) HAPPY birthday Ben!

  10. Anonymous says:


    Your post is cooler^(cot 0) than mine. =]

  11. Manders says:

    And y’all did a great job decorating! Wow! (Yes, I’m from Texas.)

  12. Anonymous says:

    Happy Bday Ben!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Happy birthday to Ben! And sweet, I have the same Firefox shirt as you.

  14. job says:

    YAY! Feliz cumpleaños!!!

  15. carmen says: have such an awesome boss…i have to say mit admissions people actually seem like REAL people, rather than the “no-face” “no-response/reply” ones at other schools..thanks for that !


  16. Teresa '11 says:

    happy birthday ben!! wow that paper chain looks fantastic… and thanks for the blog paul! the pics from the morning before i got there helped fill me in on what i missed!

  17. Happy Birthday Ben, remember don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, but if you do take pictures!

  18. Tina '11 says:

    Happy Birthday to Ben!!

    And this was the most awesome time I’ve had during IAP so far =D

    Thanks for blogging it, Paul! Happy Birthday to Ben!!

    And this was the most awesome time I’ve had during IAP so far =D

    Thanks for blogging it, Paul! <3

  19. Taylor says:

    Happy Birthday Ben!

    (and ohh, is that a Firefox t-shirt I see?)

  20. Taylor says:

    ^ Shoot! I meant that, not the.

    (An edit function is seriously needed)

  21. PS says:

    I just hope that paper chain wasn’t made with rejected applications =P

    Joyeux anniversaire, Ben =D.

    (and… be careful with what you write on whiteboards: I could read a lovely message to Jess. lol)

  22. Karen says:

    Happy Birthday Ben! It’s awesome to see that the Admissions Office is nice enough to spawn birthday parties in their offices with cream cheese frosting (as a bakery girl, I’ll agree that it’s very tasty). I will totally join in the celebration next year if possible – I can make leaves and flowers now!

    Also, the snowflakes are quite masterfully done – mine never seem to turn out that pretty. And I love paper chains. You guys did a great job! And making a paper chain out of rejection letters would have been a great use of all of that paper smile

  23. Carolina says:

    This is adorable =] Happy birthday, Ben!

  24. dan says:

    happy birthday ben! !
    hugs are good

  25. archimedes says:

    The spying picture is my favorite.


  27. Nihar says:

    A very very Happy Birthday to you Ben!!!
    Its not everyday you get to wish God a happy birthday wink

  28. Harnur says:

    A Very Happy Birthday to Mr Ben Jones

  29. Akshay says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And I must say Paul, you are not that smart to distract the person who gave you admission as he is used to all of the tricks. But I would definitely agree he will remember this birthday forever. The picks are awesome. I wish I were there. And yes what’s written on the white board???

  30. Piper says:

    Paul + your stealthy lot are AMAZING! Happy Birthday, Ben!

    Do you guys get blogger shirts this year?

  31. Judy says:

    awww, that’s so sweet ^__^

    Happy (one day late) Birthday Ben!



  33. Ben says:

    Aw, thanks guys. Aw, thanks guys. <3

    And great post by Paul, except the part about Matt is so not true… without Matt I never would have made it to this birthday!

  34. Caroline says:

    YAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!! =)

  35. Gosia says:

    Happy belated Birthday! Hope all students you have ever admitted are as thoughtful as Paul and Co.!! =)

  36. @Ben: lol Great Happy Birthday!Big Hug!
    @Paul, you are cute and cool, too. Wish I could be among you guys next year. You all have a great team spirit. How I envy your B-Day.

  37. A big 5-handshake to you. many returns of the day to you, and to all in your office.

  38. Edgar says:

    Great post Paul.
    Happy birthday to you, Ben!

  39. Anonymous says:

    “Anyway, since it’s a typical reader-of-the-MIT Admissions Blogs creeper kind of thing to do, I tried to read everything on the white board in Ben’s office.”

    Ha…I totally did that too!

  40. Ben says:

    Just so you guys know, I haven’t written anything on either of my white boards in about 2 years. They were taken over by MIT students long ago… what you see there is a combination of angst, love, and linear algebra.

  41. Star says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEN!!! That crazy cup-cake party looked like lots of fun smile

    And yeah, first thing I did was try to read that whiteboard…

  42. Libin Daniel says:

    Tons Of wishes all the way from India. Man, this is called unity in Community..I really miss my First School wink..Happy Birthday. Keep Rockin’.

  43. Aditi says:

    happy birthday Ben!!!!

    great job paul :D

  44. Isshak says:

    Wow great surprise birthday explosion ! You guys did a great job, but I’m sure he deserved it.
    Paul, I love your tee shirt.
    Ben, your child in the pumpkin suit is so cute !

  45. Hawkins says:

    Hahaha, great work guys! Next time use this one…

    “Look! A diversion!”
    (*pointing emphatically*)

  46. Lauren says:

    Happy Birthday Ben!

    And in response to your comment: Hehe, isn’t angst, love and linear algebra redundant? grin

  47. Anonymous says:

    Happy B’Day Ben!!!!!!!


  48. Priya says:

    Happy Birthday Ben!!

    @Paul — was it on purpose that Laura’s name is linked to your blog and not her’s?

  49. Jing Jing says:


    And nice turtle collection indeed… just to clarify, is that a squirtle pokemon figure on the bookshelf?

    cute & funny post; I was grinning at the computer screen the whole time I was reading this. =D

  50. Paul says:

    Priya – Woops, nope, that was an accident. Fixed now, thanks for catching it!

  51. Isshak says:

    OMG lol that is a squirtle pokemon figure ! I just noticed ! Lol that is a special office :

  52. Ellen Stordy says:

    Hey Ben,
    Did not know what a BMOC you were!
    Kudos to student/s who recognized your
    b-day – the cupcakes were mmmm good -Happy Birthday to you,


  53. Aashish says:

    Happy Birthday Ben!!!!

  54. Sam R. '12 says:

    happy belated birthday Ben!!!!!! [those chocolate cupcakes do look pretty good, enjoy!]
    -sam r.

  55. Anonymous says:

    Belated Happy Birthday.

  56. Anonymous says:


  57. Jorge says:

    Feliz cumpleaños Ben!!!!

  58. Masud says:

    Bonne Anniversaire monsieur Ben! and for all of those people doing crazy things like tan[pi/2] and cot[0], just remember that, categorically speaking, anything divided by zero is meaningless…not infinity…but i guess for the sake of creativity and Ben’s birthday I can let this looniness pass, lol

  59. E. Rosser says:

    Hahaha–HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Birthday ambushes are so much fun. Once we stole my friend’s shoes and threw them up inside the dropped ceiling. But it paid off: when she got them down, they had $20 inside… Then came the pelting with confetti… Then came the bombardment with a screechy rendition of “Happy Birthday,” which was psychological warfare in itself… Sorry, this tangent needs to be applied to zero. tan0= 0… There we go.
    Anyway, many happy returns, and have it be known that Squirtle the Pokemon is the bomb! Better than Charmander and Bulbasaur any day… Vivan los 90’s!

  60. Ginger says:

    Happy belated birthday Ben smile Hope you had a good one!

  61. Muz says:

    Happy (belated) birthday, Ben! :D

    Lol, anything/0 could be infinity, theoretically, since anything/infinity = 0. Unless it’s 0/0. Which would be ‘meaningless’.. and rather amusing if used in the sentence “a very (0/0) birthday”, lol

  62. monal says:

    Happy belated Birthday Ben !!!
    @ paul : I think this blog was one of your best ones and i just love it.
    It makes me admire MIT, its staff and students more and more!!! They are so much different from the other schools we apply to..
    I am definitely gonna make it to MIT someday…

  63. bindu says:

    That was really nice of you guys!!

  64. Karen says:

    @E. Rosser: No way! Charmander was totally the best starter pokemon. I challenge you to a battle to determine who is the true pokemon master.

    And wouldn’t “have a very 0/0 birthday” be rather indeterminate? smile

  65. Masud says:

    Yes so just use limits if you want to wish Ben an infinitely [adjective] birthday eg. I wish you an enjoyable bday to an (lim(x–>5) [1/(x-5)])