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MIT student blogger Yan Z. '12

CPW Photograph-athon by Yan Z. '12

Because anything can be a catchy title if you add -athon to the end!

As promised last week, I’m presenting the winning entries of the CPW Photo Contest, in which I objectively judged photos sent to me by CPW attendees based on their representation of MIT’s revelry in unjaded vitality, sleeplessness, and profound superiority over Harvard in every regard*. Other considerations included aesthetic sensibility and whether or not the photographer had the tact to resize their photos to something on the order of 10^2 by 10^2 pixels before emailing them to me. (Unfortunately, I have to conclude that nearly everyone who entered the contest is fated to become an astrophysicist. 3264×2448 pixels, really?? Sorry, but your photo of Tim the Beaver standing next to somebody’s mom does not deserve Hubble-esque dimensions.)

*With Class of 2013 matriculation decisions due in less than three days, I’ve decided to abandon my usual rhetorical grace in favor of simply insulting other universities as frequently as possible. Enjoy!

/further ado

Honorable Mentions:

First off, Josepher presents an excellent example of a hospitable yet grammatically-boggling welcome banner. I suppose the banner-printer guy* meant something like, “Welcome, MIT Families!” but I’m prone to parse it in the imperative mood. As in, “Welcome MIT families to our campus, you antisocial upperclassman.”

*Or girl.

Through clever choice of attire and companionship, Alex affirms to the unsuspecting viewer that he is, in fact, at MIT. Tim the Beaver beams at the camera approvingly.

On a less-traveled path of the prefrosh journey through CPW, Bridger celebrated his arrival at one of the world’s most renowned scientific institutes* by eating 12 packs of Jello in one sitting. Eating contests that feature cheap foods with comedic potential is more or less a typical pitch for a CPW event, thanks to the winning combination of gluttony and entertainment rolled into a single one-liner on the CPW schedule. I took the idea to its illogical extreme and proposed an Ice Cube Eating Contest (What’s cheap? Water. What occupies more volume than water? Ice cubes.), which was promptly rejected by the Random Hall CPW chairs back when they were both still sane.

*Not Harvard.

Edwin had a scenic edge over the rest of the competition (pun intended), with a stunning rooftop shot of the Boston cityscape. If you look closely, I believe you’ll see the MIT dome in the background.

Jenny quite aptly captured MIT’s flair for enthusiastic performances. I’m not sure which group is pictured here, but I think I want to join.

In the same vein, Lin was present at the MIT community sing, in which the MIT community sang. (I too sometimes marvel at how informative my sentences can be.)

By now, the quick-witted readers of this blog will no doubt have noticed that this photography contest was one of the Cracker Jack variety, in which everyone gets a prize that nobody really wants in the first place (i.e., a mild splash of Internet fame via the MIT admissions website). Indeed, although everyone who sent me a photo was a winner in some vague motivational sense, I had to pick a single ultra-winner in order to prove that I believe in capitalism. And so, the ultra-winner is . . .

Sam R.! (The exact same reader who won the Physics Question Identification contest on my blog a few months ago, no less. I’d post contests more often, but Sam would probably win anyway.)

I was heartened to see that Sam spent his CPW wisely, i.e. at Random Hall. One of Random’s popular, perennial events during CPW and orientation is homemade Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream. Courtesy of Rebecca ’12, here’s the list of flavors we mixed this year:

Ice Creams:
cookies and cream
raspberry vanilla
green tea (x2)
rum raisin
orange cream
mint chocolate
pure madness


Sam also ventured into the great outdoors. Here you can clearly tell that Boston is basically Walden Pond plus a Citgo sign.

I was impressed with Sam’s effective use of long exposure during the CPW Activities Midway (I think). The Activities Midway, which may or may not actually be the subject of this picture, is one of several expo-style events where student groups and various departments set up attention-grabbing, food-dispensing booths to catch the wandering attentions of wandering prefrosh. Also remarkably effective, in my experience.

Again, I’m not sure what this is, other than awesome.

Other groups on campus beyond Random Hall have also learned to exploit the hypnotic visual properties of liquid nitrogen in proximity to dairy products. Nonetheless, Random Hall is better than Harvard*.

*This comparison makes absolutely no sense, but it is still a valid statement about Harvard.

Also, here’s an example of striking architectural design at MIT:

I’ve said this before, but the pursuit of free food is a canonical part of the prefrosh experience.

Finally, Sam wraps up with a timely shot of chair racers in MIT’s extensive underground tunnel system, a fantastic transportational and recreational resource for those “inclined” to try it.

Once again, here’s an honest, grateful, thank-you-for-doing-my-job-for-me congratulations to Sam and all the honorable mentions! Remember, everyone’s a winner, as long as they don’t go to Harvard.

26 responses to “CPW Photograph-athon”

  1. divya says:

    sam r. is so cool

  2. Maria '13 says:

    Yeah, I really hope I get to meet this uber-cool Sam R. some day…

  3. Anonymous says:

    What building is the 3rd to last photo??

  4. Emilio '13 says:

    I love all the Harvard jokes hahaha

  5. Thanks, Yan (and Divya, and Maria. You two really should behave.)

    The fifth-to-the-last picture is an ice block outside the Activity Fair (correct identification for the time-lapse) awaiting its eminent doom, by means of sledgehammers, crowbars, and angst-filled prefrosh.

    That is the Porter room of Burton-Conner, a former dining hall and currently unused free space. The green screens were apparently for some student-produced film for a NASA contest. I really don’t know details.

  6. Maria '13 says:

    Kids, you have been blessed with a link to The Sam Range blog. Use this responsibly.

  7. LN says:

    Amazing pictures. smile MIT definitely looks like the coolest college :D

  8. Narce says:

    Sam has a blog? I should really pay attention when people I know put URL links into their names :3

    Anyway, I spent more time at Random than Sam, and can easily confirm that it is better than Harvard*.

    *This statement is surprisingly not groundless, as I took a short break from spending too much time at Random to visit Harvard on Saturday morning.

  9. laura '13 says:

    wow, i basically…just love sam range.

  10. Cam says:

    Hey Yan, since you made reference to it,

    Walden Pond is roughly 15 miles from MIT. I biked that distance, more or less, on Friday (my house to MIT, I live near Walden). It’s a fun bike ride, I would certainly recommend it — perhaps with a group of friends, or a group of new acquaintances (so that it doesn’t really matter if they get mad at you for making them bike 15 miles).

    Just throwing that out there.

  11. Yan says:

    @ Cam:

    Thanks, I’ll add that to my encyclopedic list of things to do after the end of the world- I mean finals.

    By the way, there was an article in the latest issue of the Tech about the charms of Walden Pond.

  12. Piper '12 says:

    I saw Walden Pond during my FPOP – it was huge! Much bigger than what I typically think of with the word “pond”…

  13. Oasis '11 says:

    Sam, you are awesome.

  14. JCM=dp/dt says:

    MIT is so cool. I aspire to go there some day, but alas, I am just a junior in high school and really unsure on whether or not I could withstand the academic rigors of such a prestigious education in science and intellectual honesty. Perhaps next year I can do well on my SAT and pursue a far more universal knowledge of physics and math, which is the foundation to any successful career. Wish me luck, all. Someday I will be entering the portico of the dome, and starring up at the grave architecture and thinking “Yes, I did it.”

    These blogs are enlightening. I find myself wondering what formula or theoretical application you all are studying. Or maybe a ingenious solution to an engineering problem. The fruition of hard work is being able to talk about it, right?

  15. Shannon says:

    The dance group is MIT Bhangra, who are AWESOME. They won second place at their competition in New York last weekend. They’re pretty much baller.

  16. alright Yan, I think you should quite physics at MIT and publish a book or something, you will earn a fortune… Your writing is exclusive, especially when coupled with those entrancing pics.

  17. Narce says:

    Also, Yan! You haven’t said on the last blog how to pronounce your name correctly in Chinese! Tell us pleeeease ^.^

  18. Mikey says:

    Nice photos, Sam! I really like that shot of the block of ice. I thought it was a fountain at first, haha.

  19. Yan says:

    @ Shannon:

    Thanks for the correction. I seem to remember going to one of their Bhangra workshops last August. Actually, I just remember that my ankles were in pain.

    @ Anonymous:

    Thanks! Hope you realized that the entrancing pics this time were courtesy of Sam.

  20. Emily '13 says:

    Haha, Sam. When I saw that album on FB I figured you’d win this. Congrats!

  21. Jenny '13 says:

    Haha I remember those “ice sculptures” outside the athletic center. People allowed us to take our anger upon blocks of ice by whacking them with hammers and poles. Some people were being excessively violent.

    Awww I miss Cambridge!

  22. mjf says:

    u cannot objectively judge anything – u can never divorce ur self from ur self as much as u might want to –

  23. John Shang says:

    Hey Yan,
    Your blog is good,I see it mang times.The photos are very you mind if I use some of your photos in my PPT?My PPT will be used in my English class report,the topic is about food.
    What is you major,and why there is so many pictures about food in your blog?They are must be very delicious~
    I am a Chinese student that from CAU.
    Best wishes~
    John Shang

  24. John Shang says:

    Hey Yan,
    Your blog is good,I see it mang times.The photos are very you mind if I use some of your photos in my PPT?My PPT will be used in my English class report,the topic is about food.
    What is you major,and why there is so many pictures about food in your blog?They are must be very delicious~
    I am a Chinese student that from CAU.
    Best wishes~
    John Shang