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MIT student blogger Paul B. '11

Hilarity with Jeremy by Paul B. '11

"Hi!" *awkward silence*

As you may have already realized, MIT attracts an incredibly diverse range of people, with a similarly broad array of interests, passions, and personalities. When I say that, I’m not just referring to undergraduates, but also to grad students, post-doctorates, and even professors – and in my opinion, this diversity is one of MIT’s greatest strengths. Although I could probably fill an entire entry about the incredible variety of people I’ve met here, right now I want to focus on an aspect of diversity I never fully appreciated until a few days ago – namely, how MIT ends up attracting some very hilarious people.

As Exhibit A of this theory, I’d like to present you with Jeremy. Jeremy is my 18.03 TA, which in English means he’s one of the teaching assistants for my differential equations class. Twice a week, roughly fifteen other students and I meet with him for an hour-long “recitation,” where he clarifies and expands upon some of the concepts we were taught in lecture, presents us with example problems, and helps answer our questions.

Additionally, Jeremy is hilarious. Basically, if you take one part wit, one part inanity, one part nonlinearity, one part awkwardness, three parts math genius, and mix it all together with a goatee, flyaway hair, and double earrings – then you have Jeremy, or at least a rough approximation. His sense of humor doesn’t necessarily help us learn the material, but it does keep our attention. And it makes for a good blog entry.

Last Tuesday, on the first day of classes, Jeremy walked into the recitation room wearing, of all things, an Elmo T-shirt. I’ve seen some pretty funny T-shirts in my time, but somehow (perhaps because of sheer incongruity) that just took the cake. As Jeremy himself said, “You wear your best clothes on the first day of class.” Upon hearing this, I instantly recognized Jeremy as the source of all wisdom and wit in human form, and commenced to scribble down the most hilarious of his sayings, for future chuckles and blogging. While I’m sure I’ll have more Jeremy-isms later in the term, I couldn’t help myself from sharing some of the best ones with you right now.

“18.03 is this class. 18 means math, 03 means…this class. Yeah.”

“This is my email address. Help, guidance…moral support.”

“If I wait a million years I’m not going to have very much junk.”

“This is all guesses, all estimates – if you like we can put the squiggle-squiggle.” (replaces an equals sign with an approximately sign)

(greeting a latecomer) “Hey! How’s it going! I’m Jeremy. Just FYI.”

(talking about the Elmo shirt again) “My nephew got me this shirt. It matches his. We look adorable together. He just turned three.”

“If this were Hooke’s Law we’d get the wrong answer.”

“…now we go back to knowing zero things.”

“Deltas are bad.”

“This is detestable, I would say.” (after I suggest separating the variables to solve a problem. Needless to say, I was somewhat taken aback.) “We can do it the hokey way, though…” (starts writing on the board) “I hate this…” (someone abruptly and loudly leaves recitation) “Apparently she hates it too. We’ll miss you!”

“This is just silliness.”

“We’ll put it in lightly. We’ll put it in pink, if you like.” (upon adding an absolute value sign to the natural logarithm function)

“Somehow I wrote the wrong thing, and the wrong thing turned out to be better…whatever, right?”

“This feels better though, does it not?”

“Here I’m just using magic and rabbits out of hats.”

“Okay. New game. wildebeests. In Africa. I like Africa.”

(after some dispute about which African countries have indigenous wildebeests) “Okay, we’re in Kenya, smartypants. I don’t know any American geography either, so it’s okay.”

“The wildebeests like to procreate, because what else is there to do besides eat?”

“…also running into electric fences and stuff.” (talking about what causes the wildebeests’ death rate)

“I’m going to put this delta t over here so we don’t get confused. By we I mean me.”

(analyzing the solution) “Actually this does make sense. It doesn’t make sense for other reasons, but that’s a problem with the system.”

“Hi!” *awkward silence* (first words on the second day of recitation)

“It’s possible that the thing you want to call something else is actually a different object.”

“Don’t worry, it will get harder.”

(soliciting answers to a question) “I hear one, I hear none. Do I hear four? Let’s just get them all on the table.”

“So we have about thirty seconds, I want to point something out.” (several minutes of math follow)

“I think it’s fun. We’re solving differential equations without actually doing arithmetic, or calculus, or whatever you want to call it. Should we do another!?”

And that, my friends, is Jeremy. For even more hilarity with 18.03 and other classes (including quotes from the legendary Professor Arthur Mattuck), do yourself a favor and check out these additional links. Be forewarned: just a black hole, these quotes will suck you in…but I mean that in a good way. It’s all in the name of education, right? After all, if your parents ask you why you’re spending so much time on the Internet, you can just tell them you’re studying MIT professors. You’d almost be right. ;)

Keri’s collection of quotes
a link I stole from Keri
another link I stole from Keri (good thing I’m attributing my sources!)
a random page I found myself
another random page
Mollie’s entry about quotes
Mollie’s quote archive

19 responses to “Hilarity with Jeremy”

  1. Paul says:

    Because I haven’t heard that one before.

  2. Laura says:

    Best quote ever:
    Professor Livermore (in 2.001, late in the semester): “And now we’re really getting to the punchline of this class.”
    Someone in the back of the room: “So you’re saying this class is a joke?”

  3. JR says:

    3rd or 4th? Anyway, Paul, I should let you know about Weird and such.

    I had something else, but….

    Oh, when/where is this recitation?

  4. milena '11 says:

    Ah, I know who you’re talking about. I tried him out while shopping for 18.01 recitations last term and I found him a little too vague. But whatever works for you, I guess.

  5. carmen says:

    “Professor Chip Quinn: “Neurobiology has been hugely advanced by deranged chemists and drug dealers. The motto of this class is ‘Say yes to drugs.'” “

    hahahaha..reminds me of my class where we found out that heroin does not have as bad of a physical effect as alcohol…

    btw: happy valentine’s day! (thanks =)

  6. Steph says:

    Sessions are enjoyable when the person who is teaching uses humor.

  7. Collin says:


    In pre-calc last year, my teacher would sometimes skip steps on the board to save time. Except, this usually confused some people who would ask what he did. “Elven Magic” would be my teacher’s response.

  8. Jalpan Dave says:

    Hahahaha!! Really funny.

    And yes, even Professor Arthur Mattuck is awesome. I viewed many of his video lectures for 18.03 from MIT-OCW. He’s really funny. One quote especially comes to mind.

    When he was explaining how to extract the real part of the solution to get the answer to the original equation, he said “this is what separates the girls from the women!!!”

    The whole class erupted with laughter. Also, he told the story of some Norwegian Mathematician who was only celebrated after his death and nobody remembered what he looked like so, Professor Mattuck said “there’s a park in Norway dedicated to him with a statue of his and since nobody knows what he looked like, the statue is high up in the sky so you can’t see very well!!!”

    By the way, who’s the instructor for 18.03 this year?

  9. Grace '11 says:

    uhh jeremy’s class definitely had too much silence for me so i switched around my schedule (meaning i now have to wake up 2 hours earlier than before) after the first day to get into my favorite ta’s recitation! but i did like the elmo shirt.

    Jalpan: It’s professor Haynes Miller, who’s been pretty good so far.

  10. Twilight Bob says:

    Wait, at MIT funny==good? I made my EC laugh during the interview–he even told me to my face that he thought I was funny. There may be hope yet!

  11. Shannon '12 says:

    Thank you for stealing the 5 minutes of my life that I just spent researching the natural range of African wildebeest and the 20 minutes of Wikipedia surfing that followed before I remembered that I was researching wildebeest, not the Schutztruppe.

    I did laugh out loud at a few of those quotes, though, so you’re mostly forgiven.

  12. Alias says:

    Ha ha ha…. hilarious.
    Beautifully written…
    can you write about the teachers… I would like to know something about them… what do they really like, what do they dislike?… that would be nice to know for a new student.

  13. Jalpan Dave says:

    Grace: Thanks a ton! I read Professor Miller’s notes from OCW and they’re pretty good and well-written. On that note, hats off to the OCW team. They’ve done a brilliant job in making MIT’s materials available to the whole world.

    Is there any way I can get hold of this semester’s materials?


  14. Paul says:

    Shannon – Sounds like you’ve found the true problem with Wikipedia

    Alias – Great question. I’ll be blogging more about 18.03 and all of my other classes sometime soon, and I’ll make sure I talk about the professors.

    Jalpan, I’ve sent you an email. =)

  15. Muz says:

    Lol, Shannon, that happens to me all the time. That’s why I hesitate to press any of the links on the blogs. By the time I’m done, I lose like, 3 hours. There, I did it again. Darn education raspberry

  16. Paul says:

    anon – I’ve thought about it, but I haven’t committed myself yet. I’ll keep you all updated if I ever do formally enter that program…

  17. anon says:

    hi paul, are you pre-med?

  18. Ahh, yes, I had Jeremy for 18.01 last semester. He’s a fabulous guy…tons of fun, he made me not hate calc (too much!)