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MIT student blogger Sam M. '07

Return of the Frog Queen by Sam M. '07

Okay, it snowed this morning, end of story.

DID YOU KNOW? The entire state of Wyoming (population 509,300) has fewer people than the Harrisburg, PA metro area.

OH WOW, it’s been a while. I’m real sorry; I’m just not exactly on top of my life right now, as the remainder of this entry should prove.

So I stayed up until 5 AM last night working on my ICE-T (“ice tea”) problem set. To answer James Eastwood’s question: YES! We’re designing (not building–the designing part is hard enough), a fuel cell that could theoretically be used to power a cell phone. A cell phone of the future. We’re not actually using hydrogen, because that could explode and kill you while you’re talking to your grandmother about apple pie recipes, and that would be fun for nobody. Instead we’re using 22 M formic acid, which is, needless to say, MUCH safer. Just don’t, you know, break your cell phone open or anything like that. Anyway, the formic acid is pressurized, so it goes through a reactor that’s about 3 cm x 3 cm while air (80% nitrogen, 20% oxygen) flows in countercurrent. Redox occurs, there’s a microfabricated nanoporous silicon membrane, and BAMF! Cell phone power!

My friend Jacqueline and I are doing all this: all the design parameters and cost estimations, all the pressures and temperatures and safety calculations, and writing a 10-page paper and a powerpoint presentation on the subject, in four weeks. Integrated Chemical Engineering, or “ICE,” the senior capstone subject in Chemical Engineering, consists of two modules: one lasting eight crazy weeks, and one lasting four far crazier weeks, during which you take all the theoretical nonsense that you’ve spent the past four years learning and apply it to two different chemical engineering problems. This is so you can prove that you actually know how to do chemical engineering before you go off to work at your six-figure investment banking job and stop caring about fluid mechanics.

Sorry, it’s the time of the season for offers, and all of us poor chemical engineers planning to go to grad school and save the world are getting just a little bit jaded.

WOW, that was a mouthful. Anyway, I fell asleep at 5 AM last night because I was working on that, among other things, and I haven’t yet learned to efficiently budget my time. One thing that I regret about MIT is that I almost never, and I say never, think in bed anymore. During high school, after a hard day of work it was no trouble for me to just lie down, put a sheet over my face, and listen to some Brian Eno while contemplating the meaning of existence or what I was having for lunch the next day or what I would sing when I auditioned for American Idol or whatever. But now? No. I can’t put my head on a pillow for more than about 27 seconds before I completely pass out into an incomprehensibly deep sleep, waking up only occasionally to babble incoherently and to hilarious effect. It’s a useful skill, because sometimes I want to sleep for only, say, 7 minutes before my clothes come out of the dryer, and being able to fall asleep so quickly will net me 6 whole minutes of sleep passed out on the floor in my clothes. In a fetal position.

So for me, dreaming is just about the most awesome thing in the world, because it’s kind of like thinking and sleep put together, and I usually only dream when I’ve been sleeping for a really long time. Which is also just about the best thing in the world, now that I think of it. So whenever I end up having an interesting dream, I do one of two things: I either a) tell you about it, or b) tell Mitra about it.

I started with b) this morning, but after some further thought on the subject I decided to go with a) also.

From: Sam Maurer
To: Mitra Lhrnbq!xobile
Time: 12:48 PM
Subject: long story

I had a dream that I went out in the middle of the night to the basement of Building 4 to get some chinese food, but they didn’t have any pork, and what I wanted from this particular restaurant was a pork dish (I think it was based on this real-life time that Shana and I went to Philadelphia and randomly walked around Chinatown until we got hungry and we found this random noodle place and they had hand-cut noodles, which I got with ground pork and scallions and it was one of the best things I ever ate and also cost only $3.75). I met up there with some people who I randomly knew in real life, but I forget who they were. Anyway, so I ordered chicken fried rice, which cost only $4 but what they gave me was like this Italian-inspired dish that was kind of rancid-tasting cool whip/mozzarella cheese with red and green sauce poured on (get it, red white and green?). It was horrible and I couldn’t eat it, but other people were getting similar dishes and loving them (they would pour different colored sauces on the cool whip depending on which country you asked for). I was like, no, this isn’t what I asked for, but it’s okay, I’m not really hungry anymore, and they let me go without paying for it. They were closing so I didn’t want to trouble them to make new chicken fried rice.

so then I thought I saw Woon Teck with bleached blonde hair at the next table, and I just started yelling, “WOON TECK! WOON TECK!” But he didn’t look over. So I went and got a slightly closer look and it turned out that it was not Woon Teck, just some guy who was Asian and skinny (yfr). But then the REAL Woon Teck with bleached blonde hair, wearing a pink shirt and makeup, was above us in Killian Court and popped his head through the window and said like one word (I forget what it was, but probably something like “Sam Maurer!” or “MEOW!”) and I was like, “Oh, Woon Teck!”

then I woke up to find that I had slept through my second step aerobics class. ARGH, how am I going to make this up??

(phys ed classes are graded on attendance only, but you can only miss one per quarter–I’ve been waking up at 7 AM twice a week for my one-hour step aerobics class, which is the only, and I mean THE ONLY thing standing in the way of my impending graduation, and now I have missed two classes with one week to go in the semester)

So when I got to thinking about this dream, I got to thinking about Woon Teck. And Woon Teck, oh, Woon Teck… he really has come to symbolize what I love about MIT. Because Woon Teck’s weird. But just saying that about an MIT student tells you nothing. Because basically everyone at MIT is weird. But in a different way. I never thought that the spectrum of weird was quite so wide or contained quite so many distinct colors. You could be weird like a pre-med who lives in McCormick, or weird like a TEP brother and build giant trebuchets, or weird like someone who lives in Random Hall takes ten classes, or weird like someone who lives in Burton-Conner and showers twice a day and bleaches his pots and pans, or maybe you stalk people compulsively and read the random documents in their public directories, or you just walk around quoting the Natalie Portman rap video at inappropriate moments. In any case, you’re FREAKING CREEPING ME OUT.

So when I say, “Woon Teck is weird,” did you imagine that Woon Teck was a 98-pound Singaporean who graduated MIT with a master’s degree in four years, decorated our suite with Hello Kitty and yet played on the MIT Rugby team (only to spite his ex-boyfriend), cross-registered at Harvard to learn Swedish (with the sole intention of using it find a Scandinavian lumberjack lover), applied nightly facial masks (and yet only consumed protein shakes and food fried in a single pot of oil), and had seven middle names. And meowed at me. In casual conversation. I mean, did you even consider that picture to be in the realm of possibilities?

If not, it’s probably because you don’t go to MIT.

I think in the end, I will remember more Woon Teck than fluid mechanics.

26 responses to “Return of the Frog Queen”

  1. Colin says:

    I can’t help but notice that you’ve been posting in the “Miscellaneous” section a lot recently. How does that make you feel, both as a blogger and as a person?


  2. blizz says:

    Well wouldn’t the fuel cell run out of 22 M formic acid? If redox occurs, doesn’t it change into something else?

  3. Touche says:

    So Sammy boy, how long have you and Mitra been dating? Come on. Don’t be shy about it… raspberry

  4. Ben says:

    Did anyone else notice the brilliant haiku potential of Colly’s post? Something like:

    How does that make you feel, Sam?


  5. Colin says:

    Ban Jones, you worry me. I think all this admissions crap is affecting you.

    I’ll probably come see you after linguistics, hopefully with Kamber. Will you be in your office since it’s Tuesday, or is this, like, super hardcore week for decisions and you have to do it every day? I love how I’m writing to you on Sam’s blog instead of sending you a Facebook message or something logical like that.

  6. Dizzle '09 says:

    “I hate MATLAB!!!”

  7. Sarab says:

    I think you may be sleep deprived mate. Contact your nearest doctor immediatley

  8. Laura says:

    Sam….how do you write the most brilliant blog entries ever? Please teach me. K Thanks. =P

  9. At least, boiled chowchow is something chinese, that doesn’t require pork, at is healthy for sliples night owls! I myself’s sliples enough 2 spel it like that smile NE sens?

    Dont like the acid that comes from red ants, its vry itching to me, I will never use it, and solar power from cut transistors are beter option to me.

    But, how toxic is the product of that redox reaction? If its not toxic, PLS report to GreenPeace. Thanks for your time and effort you spent in this participation.

  10. Chris. says:

    This is the reason I’m applying for MIT next year. Eventhough getting in would mean travelling to another continent.

    *falls in love with the school all over again*

    sigh. Time to stop reading MIT blogs and do something useful like, homework..

  11. Keri says:

    Colin, you worry me. If only for your use of terms like “Ban” and “Kamber.”

  12. Sam… You sure do have some weird dreams for sure… Foodaholic…!!! Well… The closest I have come to be dreaming about food is when I had joined a boarding 5 years back and I dreamnt that i had to suddenly, start cooking my own meals… And that really was chaotic…

    Interesting blog this one…!!!

  13. Brandy says:

    Keri and Colin, you worry me. Are you two trying to distract BENNY! = )

    No, no, no! Whatever the question you have Colin, it must wait until December 9th, 12:01 p.m. = )

  14. Nina says:

    “I never said I was a role model.”

  15. Andrew says:

    This reminds me of an Atomic Dog column at

    Very funny. I wouldn’t want to mess with the Woon Teck Clan….

    Okay I fail at humor. The chat link isn’t working atm either…

  16. AJ says:

    Woon Teck? That is insane. I once met someone who meowed at me; his name was simply “Z”. Interesting character.

  17. Ling says:

    Sam isn’t kidding when he says he can sleep instantly and anywhere. In very interesting positions. But that dream was really nowhere close to weird, but describing my dreams may be a little out of the scope of this comment.

  18. Alie says:

    1) I can relate on the sleeping anywhere/anytime thing. Isn’t it beautiful?

    2) Actually, oddly enough, when you said “Woon Teck is weird”, I mentally generated an image of an individual verrrrrry similar to the one you described…and I don’t even know the fellow…

    And since when is meowing in casual conversation considered abnormal?

  19. Janille says:

    You’re graduating next year? Oh no, what will we read once you’ve ditched the weirdness that is MIT? Woon Teck sounds like Brad Pitt. Ahh, no, sorry. You know what’s weird? Barking.

  20. You never fail to make me jealous of all the cool people who are brilliant enough to attend MIT.

  21. Eleni says:

    No, see, any theatre child worth his/her salt can imagine someone just as weird – and then use the character in a play. Can I feature Woon Teck in a play? I’d have to find the right actor, though…that might be tough.

    I can totally relate to the sleep anywhere thing. I’ve fallen asleep in so many random places around my high school…and at home…and at the home of most of my friends…maybe I’m developing narcolepsy. Or maybe I’m a senior.

  22. Ruth '07 says:

    Intentionally imagining something wierd, and living between worlds of psets and inexplicable, uncontrollable wierdness are two entirely different concepts.
    Sam, tell us what seniors do after their assignments are due? Does MIT have a reading period like Harvard?

  23. Sally says:

    I hope it’s ok to send in a question here…from an old person who doesn’t understand blogging

    (Carleton ’64, MA from Michigan, ’77) I’m talking OLD

    Someone from MIT wrote a REALLY GREAT version of the Dreidl song and I’ve been all over the web looking for the lyrics….can anybody tell me where to find them ? Or how to blog better ?

  24. Sally says:

    I hope it’s ok to send in a question here…from an old person who doesn’t understand blogging

    (Carleton ’64, MA from Michigan, ’77) I’m talking OLD

    Someone from MIT wrote a REALLY GREAT version of the Dreidl song and I’ve been all over the web looking for the lyrics….can anybody tell me where to find them ? Or how to blog better ?

  25. nghi says:

    omg i remember you telling me about woon teck.