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MIT student blogger Yan Z. '12

CPW roundup by Yan Z. '12

Meet the Bloggers, dinner with a physics professor, and a photography contest for those of you who brought cameras to CPW.

Factoid of the Day: I’ve never paid for food from the MIT Student Center.

(Secondary factoid: The primary factoid does not indicate that I have ever shoplifted food (foodlifted?) from the Student Center. Just so you know. By “you”, I especially mean “employees and proprietors of the MIT Student Center who happen to read this blog and remember that one time when I wrote about taking too many condiment packets from Cafe Four.”)

Irrelevant confessions aside, I recently verified that the MITblogs readership consists of at least 40% actual humans, leaving an estimated 58% for spambots and 2% for MIT faculty members*.

*Disclaimer: this statistical breakdown of my blog audience is not verified by real statistics. It does, however, accurately reflect the views of the author.

Much to my disappointment, nary a single spambot showed up to the CPW Meet the Bloggers night last Friday, despite the fact that spambots are among my most adoring and persistent fans (why else would they offer me such irresistible deals on authentic Rolexes?). My heart sank when I realized that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to purchase cheap pharmaceuticals and improve my credit rating at the same time.

Well, I eventually decided to settle for the spamless company of the MITblogs readership who would hardly be deterred by daunting obstacles like CAPTCHAs and hyperlink filters. Take a close look at this picture, and there’s a good chance that you’ll find yourself*:

*This sentence is to be interpreted literally in the context of “there’s so many blog readers in this picture that the probability of your inclusion is greatly nonzero,” not in the hipster-artistic sense of “look deeply into the soul of this photograph and you will discover who you truly are.” I may be convolutedly metaphorical at times, but I’m not convolutedly weird. Just so you know.

Concurrently present in the room was a group of strangers who looked eerily familiar. All throughout the night I kept thinking, I’d recognize these people if only I could see them with less pixels (50 x 50, perhaps). Also, a multicolored banner above their heads reading “BLOGS: Our Daily Adventures” wouldn’t hurt.

36 hours and roughly 3948394 mispronunciations of my name later, CPW strapped on its private jet pack, fired the engines, and gloatingly floated away from MIT, having inflicted a violent wrath of carnage on our anemic sleep schedules. Let it be said that English has not yet invented an idiom worthy of representing the monolithic effort that MIT squeezes out from its semester-weary muscles to give its prefrosh a weekend worth remembering. “The whole nine yards” doesn’t come within a mile of apt description.

Thus, in this very paragraph beginning with this very “Thus”, I’m announcing the CPW Photography Contest. In light of my camera’s unusual bout of laziness over CPW, I’m asking you, dear CPW-attending readers, to email me your favorite pictures by Sunday, Apr. 26. (CPW-related pictures, that is. I don’t want a photo of your dog wearing a Jedi costume.) Photos judged to best represent the rapturous vitality and/or suckiness (but hopefully not the latter) of the CPW experience will be posted on an upcoming blog entry, in which I will take credit for all your pictures and become rich and famous on Flickr*.

*Just kidding, of course. Everyone knows that nobody ever becomes rich on Flickr**.

**In all seriousness, I will give you full credit for your photos***.

***Let’s see how many asterisked-footnotes I can post in one blog!****

****Experiment truncated in order to minimize the annoyance of the MIT Admissions staff.

Anyhow, before I decided to stop taking pictures for a semi-forever period of time, I took pictures on Thursday at a dinner with MIT’s Undergraduate Women in Physics, of which I am delightedly a member and of which my next-door neighbor Natania is delightedly the current president. The guest of honor was Professor Nergis Mavalvala, whose field of research involves detection of gravitational waves and the concomitantly awesome-sounding phrase, “ripples in the spacetime fabric caused by the motion of compact, massive astrophysical objects.” Not to mention, Professor Nergis herself was incredibly friendly and sincere and honestly curious about my life as a non-compact, non-massive and non-astrophysical object. The faculty at MIT is approachable in general, but Prof. Nergis was like your favorite teacher in grade school always asked you about what you did over the summer and listened to you when you talked about your life. (Except my favorite teacher in grade school never worked on building a space-based gravitational-wave interferometer, as far as I could tell).

Moral of the story: Student groups like UWIP and SPS (Society of Physics Students) in your major are a fantastic way of getting to know faculty members outside of class while scoring free dinners at top-notch restaurants in Cambridge.

Speaking of which, I owe y’all a Sparknotes-style summary of the dinner with Prof. Mavalvala from a culinary perspective.

Setting: Upscale and lavishly overdecorated “international” tapas restaurant that claims on its menu to not be a “tapas restaurant.”

Characters: Myself, Professor Mavalvala, a handful of UWIP members, and practically every plate on the menu.

Exposition: Standard preliminary breadbasket, dressed with oil and olives, and a small plate of Algerian sfiriates (deep-fried Swiss cheese puffs with tomato-cumin and yogurt-cucumber sauces).

Plot highlights:

Russian mushroom-filled crepe pancakes, topped with sour cream and caviar.

Sizzling garlic shrimp.

Tuna tartare and avocado mousse cornets.

Simple-but-vivid seafood and coconut soup.

Fingerling potatoes with oysters, crème fraiche, salmon roe, and champagne sauce.

Denoument: French banana bread.

To reiterate, I’ve never paid for food from the MIT student center.

(In case you’ve forgotten already, send me your best CPW photos by Sunday for a chance to become not really famous.)

54 responses to “CPW roundup”

  1. Anna says:

    Wow! I have to say. Everything there looks so good, despite the fact that I have absolutely no idea how they taste like nor do I know what some of the ingredients that you mentioned are (Salmon roe ftw!).

    As good, and often new, food is listed very highly on my priority list for college and questions, it is a great relief to know that not paying for food is actually feasible.

    Sadly however, I do not have any pictures to share with you. Good luck with those, if any, that you get though! smile

  2. Anonymous says:

    first! cpw was awesome by the way, as will be MIT!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone know which dorms/living groups all of the bloggers live in?

  4. Yan says:

    @ Anna:

    Come to think of it, my own gustatory palette has been tremendously augmented since coming to college. Glad to hear you’re excited about trying new foods. Perhaps I should start a [email protected] mailing list for notices about student organizations that are having uber-classy free dinners (there’s already a free-food mailing list, but half of the postings are along the lines of, “half a sandwich left in Stata, come and get it in the next 10 minutes”).

  5. Anna says:

    Yan, I’m from Southeast Asia so I know about odd foods. Now that I’ve moved to the US, however, there are more opportunities. New foods are amazing!

    A new interesting food mailing list would be a good idea. But then again, the more people that know about the dinners, the more crowded they become.

    I haven’t visited yet but I’m hoping to be able to come up to MA this summer or fall. Is there going to be anyone, student or teacher, on campus then? Thanks

  6. Yan says:

    @ Anna:

    Sure, campus tours run throughout the summer. I’m here over the summer, as well as quite a few other students. If you come after August 29th or so, there will also be classes in session.

  7. Yan says:

    @ Anonymous:

    Lulu and Cristen- EC
    Kim and Yan- Random
    Laura, Jess, Snively, Shannon- BC
    Keri- SH
    Chris- iHouse
    Paul- Skullhouse
    Ahmed- Next
    Chrism- Simmons

    Apologies if I’m mistaken.

  8. Bridger '13 says:

    Most of the time, it takes about 15 minutes to get to a fraternity on the other side of the Harvard Bridge. However, if you try to take a shuttle by standing at a location which is not a stop for that shuttle, fail to look up the shuttle schedule, get stuck in traffic, and then get off on the wrong shuttle stop, it can take over one hour to reach Tau Epsilon Phi. This is why I missed Meet the Bloggers. :(

  9. Tommy '13 says:

    Sweet, that’s the first time I’ve been in an MIT blog picture…haha (Btw, I’m the kid with the blue sweatshirt in the middle of the first picture, who seems to be pondering the mysteries of the universe)

  10. comboy says:

    Flickr has just stopped me to stream my dreamworks

    let’s get out of here.
    couple of announcement(s)
    V Must act like an artIsT

    marie curie is saying that.
    i ate you, Bon appétit!
    remembered,copy and pasted from SHReK

  11. Quilty says:

    For food the correct usage is palate not palette. Anyone still believe in the preservation of the correct usage of words, rather than labyrinthine circumlocutions?

  12. hcs says:

    Those “Algerian sfiriates” look and sound really deliciously awesome, but are you sure that’s what they’re called? They only get two hits in google, this page and the place where (presumably, since it’s a restaurant in Cambridge that has the same description) they were got.

    Also you asked for it:

  13. Someone says:

    Can we block Yan from posting delicious food pictures x-( .

  14. Oasis '11 says:

    Dear Yan,

    I’m hungry; I hate you.



  15. smiley says:

    Wow Ate Yan, your title and blog entry match up!

  16. Lin² says:

    What is the limit for the amount of pictures you would care to receive from one person?

  17. Yan says:

    @ Lin^2:

    Please don’t make me have to apply for another email address. Let’s call 17 the max (although I’d prefer no more than 6 from a single person).

  18. comboy says:

    if i have to wear eye-glasses, that should be the one pair i made. live these blogs are, i’m sorry yan, reading makes my eyes demand for something , a pair of OO , i am not ready to make my ovvn OO. let me eat more of my cheese, i’m sorry that i did not keep the orange shell of the first egg. today, it feels like it was me who came out of that egg that i was folding,
    read this page from where i can see yan looking down till 34OO

  19. Sheila'13 says:

    Err…what’s your email, yan? so i can send the pics to you?

  20. Chris Praley says:

    Trim yo’ nails, girl!

  21. Lin² says:

    Btw, is it a usual occurrence to receive free food during events? I’m trying to come up with a plan to live off as little food money as possible. smile

  22. Kuljot '13 says:

    I’m in the first picture..
    THESE BLOGS ROCK! … and are a good excuse to stay away from work..

  23. Narce says:

    Q.Q I really wanted to come to Meet the Bloggers, but as said on Facebook, I was asleep on Black Hole because Random’s Sleepers Anonymous (amazing) event kept me up all of Thursday XD

  24. Narce says:

    And Sheila, Yan’s email address is at the top of the page next to her outdated blogger pic, [email protected]

  25. Yan says:

    @ Quilty:

    I’m fully aware of the distinction and assure you that my usage was a deliberate avoidance of the expected phrase. Let’s skip the literary analysis for now.

    What you may construe as incorrect diction is just my way of adding drops of color to the graying world of Internet communication. I can’t apologize for it.

  26. Yan says:

    @ Anonymous:

    If I remember correctly, you’ll get your Kerberos IDs when MIT sends out the Giant Envelope for students who decide to matriculate (sometime later in May, I think). So then you can indeed become [email protected] (although I think that one is taken).

    To become a blogger, you (1) do not ever listen to Ahmed and (2) send in an application when Matt posts the call for new bloggers (sometime in August). You can apply in any of your years at MIT.

    @ Jacobi:

    Thanks for asking! I prefer my name to be pronounced like yawn. Every other Yan that I’ve ever met uses the rhymes-with-can pronunciation though.

  27. Aditi says:

    You could’ve snuck in a picture of Professor Mavalvala (who was definitely more awesome than the food ) smile

  28. Yan says:

    @ Narce:

    No worries. At least two people at Meet the Bloggers made the same comment. (As I mentioned earlier in Real Life, however, Paul B. gets it worse. It’s become a running joke.)

    @ Aditi:

    I wholeheartedly agree, but I’m always slightly unsure about taking pictures of people and posting them on the blogs without their permission. Alas, I can only express her awesomeness in words.

  29. Yan says:

    Hey everyone, I just cut my nails.

  30. 1 says:

    i scream, u scream, we all scream, for – u guessed it – ICE CREAM FREE!! (reference email) also, name of Cambridge restaurant if possible? looks sooooo good.

  31. Jacobi says:

    That is quite hilarious, i’ve always thought that it was like yawn

  32. Anonymous says:

    Hey! I missed out on the cpw coz i live all the way in INDIA! BUT IM REAALLLLYYY excited and cant wait to see MIT. Although i did have a few questions.. excited Class of 2013 questions :p
    > Wen do we get our IDS ?? raspberry like [email protected]?
    > And umm.. How do we go about if we want to become bloggers in the coming years :p I love ye guys smile

  33. Anonymous says:

    Hey! I missed out on the cpw coz i live all the way in INDIA! BUT IM REAALLLLYYY excited and cant wait to see MIT. Although i did have a few questions.. excited Class of 2013 questions :p
    > Wen do we get our IDS ?? raspberry like [email protected]?
    > And umm.. How do we go about if we want to become bloggers in the coming years :p I love ye guys smile

  34. Narce says:

    Other people pronounce it differently?! I figured it could only be like yawn since you were Asian >.>

  35. Narce says:

    -.-” Curse un-contracting words incorrectly in my head. Just read that as “since you’re* Asian.”

  36. Jacobi says:

    I may only be a sophmore, but ive been considering MIT for quite some time. What is the proper pronunciation of your name Yan? I generally don’t like making myself look moronic.

  37. Anna says:

    Thanks for that. I’m probably going to visit somewhere from late June to July as my school starts on August 30th.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I have a question (actually two, depending on the answer for the first) about undergrad application.

    Are we required to get one recommendation from a math/science teacher and another from a humanities teacher?
    If not, is it disadvantageous to have one from math and one from science?

  39. Yan says:

    @ Sheila:

    See Narce’s comment above

    @ Chris:

    Oddly, I was just thinking a few minutes ago that I have absolutely zero insecurity when it comes to nails.

    @ Lin:

    Yep. Anyone who plans an event is well aware that college students are perpetually hungry.

    Speaking of which . . .

  40. Narce says:

    ~.~ I know I didn’t see anything wrong with your nails…. Maybe I was distracted by how tiny your hands are.

    That reminds me of how strangely you looked at me when I commented on how you were shorter than I expected ^_^” (worded just a little tiny bit less politely than that, but eh >.>)

  41. Jacobi says:

    What would be the actual pronunciation Yan? Also i believe in floccinaucinihilipilification. Do you?

  42. Yan says:

    The punchline is that neither yawn nor can-with-a-y is the actual Chinese pronunciation of my name.


  43. Ashish says:

    I am reading this early in the morning.its been 4 hours from 6 since i woke up. And to add to this,its winter here,and did not have any break fast.I brushed my mouth and those pics of the food makes me wish for a genie and order him to be infront of me.

    good pics

  44. Ashish says:

    I am reading this early in the morning.its been 4 hours from 6 since i woke up. And to add to this,its winter here,and did not have any break fast.I brushed my mouth and those pics of the food makes me wish for a genie and order him to be infront of me.

    good pics

  45. Narce says:

    Then can you please say how to pronounce it in Chinese? I’ll still call you by the way I thought your name was pronounced in the first place ~_~

  46. Narce says:

    Yes, it is required to have exactly 1 from each. The forms you print out will clearly be labeled with who can fill them out ;P

  47. Niki says:

    I rhymed it with can, until a friend of yours corrected me at CPW. Now I have to figure out what strange Chinese accent I seem to have wound up with…

  48. Narce says:

    Does rhyming it with can really sound Chinese to chinese people?! It sounds so southern to me….

    Then again, I base all my romanized asian dialects on Japanese -.-“

  49. carlos says:

    wow comboy really exists!!! i never read people’s comments but i now see that he’s there. anyways i think i see myself in that picture!!! smile though i could be wrong. yay

  50. Narce says:


    You… believe in calling things worthless? Isn’t that a little rude? XP Or did I get the definition wrong?

  51. Jacobi says:

    Only if they are Narce, take Harvard smile.

  52. Narce says:

    Still waiting for Chinese pronunciation of your name, Yan-sama!

    And Jacobi, Harvard as a whole isn’t worthless. Harvard’s undergraduate program is.