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MIT student blogger Jess K. '10

Conditioner For My Face by Jess K. '10

"The dot product is the solution to all the problems of the universe. Even the Federal Budget."

I got this postcard from my dad a few weeks ago. It’s funny how when you leave for college, you kind of forget that life continues to happen in that world where you just left. I just got this message out of the blue – I had no idea that my dad went to Korea (and from there, to Singapore and Cambodia). I like to think that my parents were actually secret agents before my sister and I were born, and now they’re just picking their lives back up where they left off. Next up – my mom goes on a mission to HAWAII! (She said she was taking my grandparents, but I know that’s her cover story. I’m so on to them.)

I’ve always been one of those people who keeps track of funny quotes. Two years ago when I was in South Caicos for a research program I made a three-page quote list that included such gems as, “Can I use your conditioner for my face?”, “I cook with MY Nalgene!”, and “So the conch goes, ‘Oh s***. I’m out of oxygen, and I’ve crapped on my head.'” (That last one is a personal favorite, from my professor’s lecture on conch anatomy.)

So the other day when my 5.112 (Chemistry) professor was discussing hydrogen power, I made sure to take note when he said “I’ve never been to Iceland, but I do believe it would be one of my favorite countries.” (Iceland’s percent hydrogen power of total power, apparently, is the highest in the world.) “And the bus doors, you know how they open like this?..” He then proceeded to go to the board and draw bus doors that split in the middle. “You have the water molecule with the OH bonds…” (At this point he draws a water molecule with the two hydrogens on one door and the oxygen on the other) “…so that when the bus doors open…it splits! Demonstrating how your bus is powered!”

Patrick the Irish calculated that if we’re spending about $45,000 for tuition per year, each lecture is something like $104. If each lecture is 55 minutes long, this means that I spent around $12 to hear my professor discuss Icelandic bus doors. My parents would be thrilled.*

Other rich gems from my classes (all are split into lectures, big talks by your professor, and recitations, small sessions by your TA):

“Now we have a concentration cell. It sounds like a good place to study for an exam. That’s not what it is.”

(on someone’s research paper from the early 1900s about VSEPR theory) “They’ve subtracted his signature. Probably so that no one could use his credit card.”

“You can’t just send an ion through a galvanic cell. Because otherwise, I could put a little charge on myself and run through a wire. Eric –> Eric+ + e-.”

“Now we’re going to move into drawing VSEPR structures. I was considering using red and blue chalk and give everybody those 3-d glasses..”

“You may want to work it out by another method, but that’s not correct…”

“Son of an ellyptic paraboloid!”

“I am probably not telling you the truth.. but this is not the first time.”

Next week is Thanksgiving, which means that some of the dining halls (as well as a few fraternities) have been having special Thanksgiving buffet dinners. I am a huge fan of food, Thanksgiving food especially (while you may think this is strange because I’m a vegetarian, I have never met cranberry sauce that I wasn’t immediately friends with), so I took this opportunity to drag all my friends to different dinners across campus. My friend Christana couldn’t stop laughing when she saw my plate(s). Just because I’m small and Asian doesn’t mean I can’t eat!

(Okay, I didn’t really finish everything, but I enjoyed everything so thoroughly that I almost couldn’t walk after. I need to get into serious eating shape for next week.)

Thanksgiving also means that a lot of people are going home, some are staying here, and a few weirdos (like yours truly) are having their parents fly out here, and then going to visit their relatives in New York, where there will invariably be large amounts of cheek-pinching and eating more than enough Korean food to compensate for several months of college dining. To say that I’m excited would be a gross understatement. I’m so excited I can’t even study!

Especially since my parents are taking time off from their secret lives of fighting crime to see me.

*From: [email protected]
Subject: Re: Review Your Current MIT Student Account Statement
Date: November 16, 2006 12:16:46 AM EST
To: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

Jess, thank you for spending our money. Love Dad

31 responses to “Conditioner For My Face”

  1. madmatt says:

    Did HKim really address that postcard (without city/country/etc.) to “Jess Kim, MIT, The Next House”?!

  2. Anjanie says:

    Hahaha, well my parents aren’t secret agents, but they have been planning numerous vacations for when I go to college! It is sooo unfair! Well it kind of amuses me when I figure their plans out and tell them about it. Then they have to devise another one…

  3. Nina says:


    Cranberry sauce and Nathan’s hot dogs, oh my!

    I always write lecture/recitation quotes in my margins, and those sound SO FAMILIAR. Silly freshman classes. Silly TAs. They just have no idea that their every word is being recorded. (My 3.091 TA would swear a lot and then apologize. But I liked it. raspberry But what I didn’t like was my Bio TA, who presented everything in a simplistic way mainly, I suspect, because she didn’t know the whole story. That’s less encouraging.)

    Loved the email from your parents. HILAAAARIOUS. xP And yeah, I didn’t even think about that — with your sister at the Harv, they really are spending money. But at least your schools have giant endowments so they can afford to pay financial aid. There’s a blessing to count.

  4. Sarab says:

    Very Interesting!

  5. karen says:

    is “MIT, Next House” really all you have to put as an address??

  6. Anonymous says:

    Did you know that it you take the dot product of our current federal budget and an ideal budget, you get 0? grin

    Seriously, though, those are great quotes. Especially liked the conch quote and “You can’t just send an ion through a galvanic cell. Because otherwise, I could put a little charge on myself and run through a wire. Eric –> Eric+ + e-.” Hillarious.

    Anyway, its kind of funny that you brought up competative eating. We just published our school newspaper, and it had a fairly large article on the subject, portraying it negatively, though.

    *yawns* 11:28, it’s late. G’nite.

    On a completely random note, I have “Ride of the Valkyries” stuck in my head. Just wonderful.

  7. hkim says:

    Yes, MIT is so well known in Korea, you don’t need to bother with the details.

  8. JKim says:

    (You see where I get the sarcasm from? Thanks, Dad.)

    And no, I took it out, on second thought. Though I’d like to think that if you did write that, it’d get to you eventually, just not as quickly as if you had written the whole thing out.

  9. ICE says:

    ha,It is very cute~

  10. cemilyd says:

    Scotty and I were reading your blog (hah! you have fans!), and were wondering… the last three sound like Benney-isms; are they? (and if so, I think I have a few more choice ones from that class sitting around…)

  11. L says:

    Hmm, yes, a few years ago, my parents started going on cruises and would taunt me about how they were spending all of my college money. I was twelve. Yessir, that’s what I call a good relationship…

  12. jas says:

    hey Jess,

    do you know when we know our decision? like the exact date? It says on the website in mid-december, but I was wondering if there is a specific date we are notified.
    And how are we notified? Do we get e-mails or do we know through our mit account?

  13. Christina says:

    My grandfather was an awesome artist and he used to draw pictures of movie stars with no address and and send them on postcards. They got there every single time except once, I believe. Granted, this was 50 years ago, but still. SO COOL.

  14. theresa says:

    jas, I think the date is december 15 — and I think it’s through your mit account ..

    don’t quote me on that though – i have multiple friends applying early elsewhere, and somehow (coincidentally? maybe not…) all their decisions come out on dec. 15th.. (they’re posting a countdown on one of my classroom’s blackboards)

    but I think I read that mit EA decisions actually do come out on dec. 15th … (somewhere)

  15. Anonymous says:

    they say around 15th, but not ON 15th…..

    and it won’t come through myMIT, it will only be sent out by mail

  16. Melissa Hunt says:

    I e-mailed them, and they said the decisions can be seen on the account on Dec. 9th after noon. I hope this is still correct =)

  17. Amanda says:

    I hear back from one of my colleges on Dec. 25. What a nice date if I’m rejected.

  18. Anonymous says:

    wowow that last e-mail is funny!
    Your sister goes to harvard? Did you not want to go there?

  19. Brandy says:

    December 9th? OMG, that is so close yet so far away.

  20. garnet says:

    lol. i heard today that your dad happens to be my friend’s doctor. he was trying to get a doctor’s note to get out of passing the swim test, but he couldn’t. your dad told him that he had to pass the swim test in college anyway. haha. small world. =P

  21. theresa says:

    dec 9th?… NO WAY…
    that’s my birthday !!
    just kidding.. my birthday’s a few days before it actually (the 5th)..
    wow that is a lot more close than the 15th, but you’re right brandy –
    “so close! and yet SO FAR AWAY! NOO!” (harold from a random hey arnold episode — raspberry )

  22. Eli says:

    jkim i felt like posting on your blog but i prob should be studying….

  23. Willy says:

    @amanda: really? aww that sucks. haha

    imagine what’ll happen if you get in though. Mass jubilation all over the place.

    Thanks for the blog JessK. Stereotypically asian parents rock my socks. ^.^ haha happy thanksgiving!

  24. Daniel W says:

    Yeah, but from what I’ve been seeing, a lot of that money seems to go toward all the free food that’s available around here…

  25. Jess says:

    About the EA Decision- Ben answered it in his latest post (

    “Our goal is to release decisions online at noon MIT-time (EST) on Saturday December 9th. Decisions will also be sent via postal mail around the same time. I won’t be able to confirm 100% until we’re a bit farther along in the process, but I’ll let you know if anything changes.”

    And Daniel – I’m definitely not complaining. smile

  26. mr. neha says:

    December 9th? OMG THAT’S MYYYY BIRTHDAY.
    no really it is.

    anyway jess this definitely reminded me of the running log i have of Bennyisms from 18.023. can you imagine that in 3 weeks there will be no Bennyisms??

  27. Keri says:

    No fair, Neha! They got mailed out on your birthday last year, too!

    Also, OMGLOLZ!!!!5, Jess. You wrote “Christana” in your blog.

  28. Iddoshe says:

    I just wanted to thank you for posting the information about the reischauer scholars program. I spent the summer in Japan as an exchange student and was looking for a way to continue studying the country. After reading your entry, I knew rsp was the perfect opportunity and applied for the program. And I just found out today that I was accepted! So, thanks again, because I probably wouldn’t have known about the program if you hadn’t posted the info. ありがとう!

  29. dongying says:

    are you from Korean?I think so.
    I am a Chinese student.
    say hi to you.