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MIT staff blogger Ben Jones

Brain Dump by Ben Jones

This is going to be ~14 entries in one - my fault for being too busy to blog much lately. If you get through it all in one sitting, you're a rockstar.

This is going to be ~14 entries in one – my fault for being too busy to blog much lately. If you get through it all in one sitting, you’re a rockstar.

Hawk Cam

Have you guys seen the hawk-cam yet?

Funny story – I was attending a seminar on podcasting a few weeks ago when they announced that the hawks had returned. There were a few hundred people in the audience, all of us mentally picturing images of cute, fuzzy baby birds. So I had to laugh out loud when the presenter hit the button and put the live hawk-cam up on the big screen – just as Daddy Hawk brought Mommy Hawk half a squirrel (and not the pretty half, let me tell you). ~300 people simultaneously commented “ew.”

So if you choose to keep the live hawk-cam open on your desktop, as many folks here do, remember that you have been warned. :-)

Reason #261 That I Would Live In EC If They’d Let Me

Because they build stuff like this.

Zack and RJ (both MIT ’09) have completely transformed their EC room by developing MIDAS (Multifunction In-Dorm Automation System), which features “everything from web control, voice activation, and a security system, to large continuously running information displays, electric blinds, and one-touch parties…”

My favorite quote from the site:

When the [party] button is hit, all the lights shut off, the blinds close, the displays show “FEEL THE ENERGY” and a deep voice says this over the speakers with a deep bass beat in the background. Then intense music turns on along with the sound activated strobe light, laser light show, fog machine, black lights, revolving disco light, LCD visualization projector projected onto the blackout-screen, neon colored lights, computer screen Winamp visualization, oscilloscope showing the waveform of the music, and surveillance camera monitors.

Yeah, try that at home. (Actually, you can. They tell you how.)


I see that many of the ’10s have set up their MIT email addresses, judging by the number of friend requests I’ve been getting on facebook. (Big thanks to everyone who has friended me!) I’m glad you guys are getting that out of the way now – when I first discovered facebook, I lost three days of my life. Ah, facebook.

I have added some photos of my past there, for your amusement. Consider it an excuse to friend me.

The Last Couple Of Weeks

In my last entry, I promised to answer the popular question: “So now that RA selection and CPW have come and gone, do you guys get to just relax until fall travel starts up again?”

Not exactly. May –> August = the months in which we actually accomplish things with some momentum, because we’re not consumed by travel, application-reading, selection committee, and CPW planning. In the last few weeks, I’ve attempted to:

  • Process a bunch of correspondence from applicants who have been waitlisted and prepare it for the waitlist committee. And bug committee members about my kids who are on the waitlist.
  • Plan September central meetings in PA, DE, NJ
  • Revise next year’s application, both print and web versions
  • Meet with music & art faculty to revise portfolio submission process
  • Edit a bunch of Nance’s stuff
  • Entertain Nance
  • Design an online survey to solicit feedback on the MyMIT blogs (look for this in a few weeks, and please participate when it comes out!)
  • Return all the phone calls I’ve been blowing off for months from external vendors; test vendor products for possible use in MyMIT
  • Write & design new invitations for next fall’s central meetings
  • Design new admissions post cards
  • Design end-of-year presents for my bloggers (they’re SO cool, I must say – will post pics after they’ve been distributed)
  • Brainstorm with Matt on how we hope to evolve the blogs program next cycle
  • Plan high-level messaging for the coming year – investigate the holes in what applicants know about us (or think they know about us)
  • Develop annual communications plan – a critical look at all of our publications and the web site content
  • Write my self-evaluation – we have to do this every year and submit it to HR (it always takes me forever – I’m not good at writing about myself)
  • Research podcasting – one of many new initiatives we hope to implement next cycle
  • There’s more, but I can’t think of it all at the moment.

So I’m hammering away at communications-related stuff. My colleagues all have similar workloads, relevant to their specific foci (foci? focuses? What’s the plural of focus again?).

To answer the original question: we never relax! :-)

Ivy Plus

Next week will be a nice change of pace, however: we’ll all be at the Ivy Plus Conference. This is similar to the NACAC Conference in that it’s a bunch of admissions people discussing common issues in their field, however IP differs in that it’s limited to admissions folks from Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, Penn, and Yale.

It will be my first Ivy Plus conference – I’ll give you a report when I get back.

When The Cat Is Away, The Mice Will Play

If you’ve seen Matt’s blog recently, you know he’s in Indianapolis for the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF).

Q: What’s wrong with this picture?

A: That’s Matt’s office, but that isn’t Matt sitting at Matt’s desk. Because Matt is far, far away.

Look how Nance has trashed the place… but that’s not half as bad as the fact that he’s answering the phone by saying “Yo yo yo, you’ve reached McGann’s Summer Home! Summer home and some are not! hahahahahaha” before slamming the phone down.

He looks guilty, no? And he’d better clean that place up before Matt gets back.


Idol | CHRIS GOT VOTED OFF??? Are you kidding me? Discuss.

LOST | Jess: MICHAEL, I know, I know. But I have this week’s tivoed so don’t discuss yet.

Because It’s Friday And I’m Feeling Silly

K-Ro ’10 thinks Brandon Boyd is hot. Agree or disagree? Discuss.

28 responses to “Brain Dump”

  1. apoorva '10 says:

    “summer home and some are not”…cracks me up!

  2. Emily says:

    Agree. You can’t ask for much better than a guy with musical talent and nice abs (who likes to perform shirtless).

  3. A parent says:

    Summer home and some are not! That is hilarious.

    Ben, your list of things to do looks awesome. Looks like the kids applying next year are going to have an even more fun myMIT blog site with perhaps lots of new features and links.

    About self evaluation, you are not alone in saying “it takes for ever”. No doubt, It is hard to blow your own horn, although it is considered a strength in corporate america grin

  4. A parent says:

    The name plate on Matt’s desk does not reflect his recent promotion huh?

  5. Ben says:

    Thanks for pointing that out! As the communications guy, I think I’m supposed to order his new business cards… grin

  6. Anonymous says:

    I guess I’m a rockstar! =D

  7. '10 says:

    I had a question about the school report that we have to send in. Do you want us to just have our counselor fill in our grades on the sheet provided or should we also have them send in a final transcript once grades are final? Thanks!

  8. thekeri says:

    K-Ro and I have already agreed on the fact that Brandon Boyd is a) hot and b) god.

    The end.

  9. Christina says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA LOLOL @ Nance at Matt’s desk/answering Matt’s phone.

    I have to ask: why is Nance in Matt’s office and what did you do to “entertain” Nance?

    I don’t know who Brandon Boyd is. :-(

  10. Omar '10 says:

    It’s a great entry! It’s nice to know what you all at admissions are doing now smile specially cause you are the great people that admitted me to the Class of 2010. MIT Rocks, I can’t wait to know if I got into Interphase!

  11. nehalita says:

    You know, I would purposely call matt just to HEAR Nance say that. No joke.

  12. Ben says:

    ’10 – I think either is fine. Just something from the school showing that you didn’t fail all your classes. grin

    Xtina – it doesn’t take much to entertain Nance. And I’m not really sure why he’s in Matt’s office, to be honest with you. Brandon Boyd is the lead singer of Incubus, and he does indeed have great abs, as Emily points out. (Do a google image search for evidence.)

    Note: I’ve edited the original entry a bit – check out the new part on MIDAS (right under the hawk cam).

  13. K-Ro '10 says:

    Dude, you called me out on Brandon Boyd! But I guess it’s okay since his greatness is a generally accepted fact.

    And WHAT IS UP with American Idol?! Something definitely went wrong, but I heard he’s officially a member of Fuel now!

    Your schedule puts me to shame. Seeing as my schedule just consists of sleeping anyway. Which reminds me, do you know when we hear from Interphase?

  14. l0ngL says:


    And I lost two bucks.

  15. JKim says:




    omgwtflost. you have to watch it now.

    Also I would just like you to know that MY MOTHER initiated the poking war with you. Good stuff.

    And also, Brandon Boyd is amazing. I’ve already told Keri and K-Ro this but I saw Incubus last summer and girls were literally throwing their bras on the stage. He said thanks all embarassedly, and then he played us Sponge Bob Square Pants, acoustic.

    I kind of want to marry him.

    And Nance. Oh god, puns are my life.

  16. Ben says:

    K-Ro, not sure about interphase – nance would know. It should be soon!

    Regarding the Chris/Fuel thing, I just found this note on Fuel’s site:

    “All right. Check it out. Here’s the deal. Normally, obviously, we would never even think about anyone from Am Idol as a singer for Fuel. However, ever since Chris sang Hemorrhage on the show, we began paying attention. Sorry, the show’s not my thing, but at least most of the finalist can sing and aren’t Britney Spearing it up there. However, Chris in my opinion has carried himself well on the show and has stayed true to his rock side, which is a serious credit to him considering the format. We have found some great guys through the audition process and in fact, were already headed in other directions when Chris unexpectedly got voted off the show. The phones started ringing. So now what? I think anyone would say that we would at least have to entertain the idea of Chris and Fuel. The websites have been flooded with support for the idea ever since he sang Hemorrhage from most of you. So that is what we are doing. We are entertaining the idea and the offer to Chris was that we would be willing to entertain him as an option. However, there is a lot to discuss and be decided. Is it right for us? Would it be the right thing for Chris? Would he even be able to get out of the contractual obligations to Am Idol? Would we be able to get things squared with Sony? So nothing is cut and dry, even if both camps thought it was right thing to do, it still might be impossible to work out all the details. Chris and I have discussed the possibility before and we are still entertaining the idea. Either way, never fear, we are coming with a great lead singer very soon who we are very excited about and rolling out a record this year.”


    Dan – I agree with you totally, and came to the same conclusions. It’s just a tough pill to swallow because I think Chris has been getting better while Kat has been getting worse. (By the way, for most of the series Kat has been my absolute favorite.)

    Sam – we must debate this aversion to chris in person. grin

    Jess – watching tonight. Will get back to you.

  17. Dan says:

    About the American Idol, both Taylor and Elliot did really really good that night. Both of them got a “this was your best night” that night. So they were almost sure to stay on. Kathryn is/was the only girl left on the show and millions probably voted for her saying “girl power” in my opinion, or at least enough for her not to have the least amount of votes. There were only 4 contestants, and Chris didn’t do EXTRA special that night (although good of course), and therefore by process of elimination he is the one who got voted off for getting the least amount of votes. Someone’s gotta have the least and there were good reasons for the other 3 to stay that night.

  18. Dan says:

    I like that analogy – “It’s a tough pill to swallow”.

  19. Sam says:

    I thought Chris was pretty bad except for “Dead or Alive” in the top 24, although I guess he was marketable in the end. Also, I have an unbelievable crush on Elliot Yamin.

  20. Christina says:

    He’s attractive, but I wouldn’t marry him or anything. tongue laugh

  21. Christine says:

    Mmm, Facebook. <3 shiny new MIT email addresses.

  22. K-Ro '10 says:

    It never occurred to me to check the Fuel site rather than to just go off of rumors! Good move. This’ll be an interesting little story to follow.

    And I shall hit up Nance for Interphase info, because that would make sense. If I had sense.

  23. D says:

    Kat has been my favorite for most of the season, too! It breaks my heart that she forgot the words to hound dog tho.. rule #1 of AI… never forget the words! I think Chris will have a much better career having gotten voted off because I see him as being way more successful in a band than as a solo artist.. no diss against Chris, he is awesome, but a real rocker needs a real band. It is weird about Elliot though.. I never used to like him at all, and all of the sudden he started to get really good! Taylor is awesome, so this year I will pretty much be happy with whoever wins. As for LOST… I absolutely can’t believe Libby died! (tears and sniffles) I was so hoping all would work out with Hurley. That show drives me crazy!

  24. A Parent says:

    I made up this poem in commemoration of the achievement of HSMC … that is “Howe and SER Moving Company”. It goes like the poem ‘Charge of the Light Brigade” by Lord Tennyson, but the words are all mine.

    Half a smoot, half a smoot,

    Half a smoot onward,

    All in the pits of pasa dena

    Rode the mighty beaver Brigade.

    “Hold up, the Mens et Manus pride!

    “Charge for the gun!” Howe said:

    Into the valley of Tech

    Rode the beavers clad in red.

    Cannon in front of them

    Cannon so dear to the Flem

    Cannon but ready bid them

    So long,farewell,and the anthem

    Armed with skills second to none;

    Onward the beavers marched

    Through the watchful prying eyes

    Of men who kept the guard

    Boldly they drove and well,

    Into the pits of dena,

    Into the mouth of je-p-ell

    Rode the beavers clad in red.

    Onward and outward

    The cannon began its sojourn

    Decorated and adorned

    with the famed brass ring on its boom

    Through the land of dreams and opprtunity

    To its final resting place

    That we dearly call MIT

    O when can their prank ever be matched?

    O what a master plan they made!

    All the world watched and wondered.

    Honor the men for the prank they made,

    Honor the Beaver Brigade,

    Long live the tradition of the beavers clad in Red.

  25. Colin says:

    OH HOW I HATE CHRIS DAUGHTRY. I can’t even talk about him because I just hate him so much.

    Katharine McPhee = my one true love. And Elliott is basically my hero. I hope they’re the top two because I wouldn’t mind either of them winning. It’s time for the gray-haired thing to get gone.

  26. Sharmin says:

    Agree. Definitely agree.

  27. Sarah Dupuis says:

    Brandon Boyd is most certainly my dream date.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Can’t wait for the Lost finale tonight, and to see some resolution and answers. I really hope they don’t unnecessarily prolong the series like the X-files producers did; stack up mysteries, and leave the most important unattended.

    Hey, did you watch the Alias SERIES finale? Whatchya think?