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MIT student blogger Sam M. '07

Play it again, Sam by Sam M. '07

You wouldn't be saying that if you were in lab with me.

DID YOU KNOW? All canned pineapple is cooked. This is why you can use canned pineapple in JELL-O but not fresh pineapple.

How tired do people get at MIT, with all the work they have to do? Well, yesterday I broke my world record low test score with a 40% on the third 6.002 exam. Luckily, the average was 47 with a standard deviation of 25, meaning that I really didn’t do too badly, and also that you could have gotten a zero and still passed. However, shortly after getting my test I exclaimed, “Shoot! Dammit!” People probably thought I was just really upset about the test score, but I quickly followed it with “I stapled my finger!” After a few moments of panic, I had the sense to reach in and rip it out with one clean jerk. Miraculously, it didn’t even bleed one drop for the rest of the day, the only evidence of it being a slight tenderness and a dull throbbing pain. Then I fell asleep 40 minutes into recitation.

So, you can staple your finger to a problem set and then fall asleep, sitting down, half an hour later. That’s how tired people at MIT are.

Thirteen hours later, having not left campus for home at all, I triumphantly completed this thing.


It’s a clock, a counter, some memory, a DAC, a low-pass-filter, an amplifier, and a speaker. Put it all together and what do you get? Well, you get to pass 6.002 for one. But you also get music. Sweet music. I was really excited, because I had never done anything circuitry-related before and almost blew up an oscilloscope on the first day of lab, and now, here I am, making real, live 8-bit audio equipment out of a tangled mess of wires.

So, if you notice above, my memory is labeled LV, and I have no idea what this could possibly stand for. It played some kind of sad-sounding piano ballad, but the distortion was too great for me to figure out which one. I was guessing maybe “Lovely” something or “Lady” something or just plaing LoVe, but I really have no idea. So I played it again and again, switching out bits, playing with the gain, turning off the filters, but no luck in figuring it out. I was so excited, because everybody else was playing AP (the chorus of American Pie) or MLK (“I Have A Dream”) or WHO (Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s On First”) and I have absolutely no idea what I was playing. So, finally, deciding that the rest of the lab grew tired of hearing distorted whatever, I decided to pack up and call it a night.

Can you think of any piano-related thing with the initials “LV?”

8 responses to “Play it again, Sam”

  1. Colin says:

    Put up a sound clip! I love playing “Name That Tune.” You know, with myself. I’ll think, “I bet I can name that tune in three notes.” And then I think about the first three notes of Chopin’s First Ballade, and then I think, “Chopin’s First Ballade!”

    This doesn’t really happen, but the point is I really believe they should bring that show back, because as a young child I was familiar only with David Bowie, Bonnie Raitt, and Pat Benatar, and a snappy Italian-flavored piano tune I was convinced I had made up until I heard it years later on an Olive Garden commercial.

    Anyway, congratulations on finishing it! I’m pretty sure I’m not going to make it at MIT because I don’t understand things that are, um, hard. Which is how that looks. Okay.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Okay, sorry if this seems random, but this is one of my many, very small, pet peeves. The quote from Casablanca is actually “Play it, Sam,” not “Play it again, Sam.” This is a common misconception. I wouldn’t have mentioned it except that we are watching it in my English class (the AP’s over, so we have to do SOMETHING). Great entry though, and that does look really hard. smile

  3. Mike says:

    Damn technology stuff. You wire some electronics, and everyone goes, “Oh, how impressive!” But you wire some E. coli to do something super cool, and everyone goes, “Ick, gross bacteria!” No justice in the world.

    Anyway, I just completed this stupid semester! Victory over junior year!

  4. D says:

    Casablanca is my favorite movie! Well, it is not a definite favorite because I have many, but I noticed the quote too.

  5. JKim says:

    Colz, I used to think Pat Benatar was a man.

    True story!

    I also do not understand things that are, um, hard.

    I once got a 47 on a chem test. My chem teacher was notorious for being the craziest guy in school, but he told us he would scrap the test and let us retake it because he believed “you are young, and shouldn’t have to deal with such hardship so early on.” woot.

  6. Drew says:

    My guess: Ludwig van (Beethoven). That or the V is the Roman numeral for 5, but I wouldn’t know for what the L would stand.

  7. Colin says:

    “Play it again, Sam,” is from the Marx Brothers’ A Night in Casablanca, and because people tend to pay more attention to parody than to its source material, said phrase has caught on much more easily than its first incarnation. I think it has to do with the more rhythmic quality of the “imposter” quote. wink

  8. Sanja says:

    @Drew: as far as I remember L stands for 50, so LV is 55, but than… it doesn’t make any sense