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MIT student blogger Ahmed H. '12

Snapshot of a Week by Ahmed H. '12

Food, radio, James Bond, and soccer in an unusually eventful week.

Last week was Veterans Day, which meant a four day weekend! The perfect time to catch up on schoolwork and then get ahead in classes, if you’re smart. I’m not, so I spent most of the vacation on Reddit or Facebook. However, our awesome Next House wing reps Gabe ’11 and Sam ’09 forced me to leave my computer. In Next, wings are halves of floors, either the East or West side, and the elected representatives organize social events. They help build a sense of community by ensuring that everyone is friendly with each other. The dorm gives them an annual budget to spend at their discretion, for dinners or study breaks or even appliances for the wing to share. So Sam and Gabe organized a Veterans Day dim sum dinner. We took the Red and Orange Lines to Chinatown Station and then walked a couple blocks to the cavernous China Pearl. When we finally arrived, the restaurant was enormous and empty except for our group of ten people. The dim sum entry has been done before (and better than I ever could have) so I’ll spare the gory details. Suffice to say, the warm and copious food on the cold night was great. And now, for the first time, pictures in my blog!

Clockwise from left: Me, Brandi, Nan, Geza (all ’12), Denys and Jet ’11, Sam ’09, Gabe ’11. Not shown: Shion ’12.
Brandi trying hard not to be famous to the prefrosh Also shown: This picture trying hard not to be centered. Stupid HTML.

It’s not my fault though. Seriously. Three years ago I wanted to get into photography. Digital cameras at the time (and now, even) being either cheap but extremely lame or prohibitively expensive but totally awesome, I turned to eBay for a classic, all-mechanical, fully manual film SLR. I won an auction for a c. 1975 Minolta SRT-202 in perfect condition, with four lenses (50mm, wide angle, fish eye, and telephoto/telezoom/close focus combo), 10 filters, and a flash. Total cost: $75. This camera has served me faithfully and it’s been all over the world. It’s one of my most prized possessions, but it’s mostly useless for blogging.

[All photo credit to Shion ’12 and her almost-broken, thrice-rinse-cycle’d digital. I’m probably getting my own camera on Black Friday so I won’t have to piggyback off her anymore.]

Then on Monday I helped with the WMBR fundraising drive. I answered phones for Yves’ French Toast show since he’s been so kind in helping me learn to use the control board. On Wednesday, I did my show at 7am and stayed to answer phones for Ben ’09. He does the almost-daily Breakfast of Champions, which has a different DJ for every day of the week. On Wednesday, all BoC hosts showed up to help Ben. The fateful combination of far too many pledge-takers and far too few pledges created a humorous desperation among us caffeine-addled radio folk. Not entirely in the right frame of mind, if the phone rang and I was more than an arm’s reach away, I dove. Head first. Over a table. Maybe it was the coffee, or the hunger, or the lack of sleep, or the Saints sweatshirt I had on (one of the other volunteers christened me Reggie). I can imagine what it must have sounded like to the caller: “*CRASH* ‘OUCH!’ … ‘Oh, hello. WMBR.'” I think I can fairly say that I took the most pledges.

To entice more callers, Ben kept upping the ante. First, for $50, Ben would Facebook friend you. No takers. He’s cool, but not pay-me-to-be-your-friend cool. For $250, all DJs in the studio would sing a song of your choosing. No takers. Seriously, how could anyone pass this up? I was disappointed and outraged that no one took advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity. Still, over a period of two hours Ben’s show brought in something like $1100, which is pretty awesome. In fact, the entire fundraising drive was a success. Of our fairly optimistic goal of $70,000, we fell less than $2,000 shy. There’s even still a chance that we will reach the mark since internet pledging is still open, but even as it stands now our fundraising was more successful (by percentage) than the usual performance of the NPR affiliate in Houston.

Classes started again on an uneventful Wednesday, but on Thursday evening we had an 8.01 (Classical Mechanics) exam. Everyone left the room downtrodden. I was talking to Christian and Kelsey ’12 about the horror when they mentioned that they were going to the premiere of Quantum of Solace, the new James Bond movie. I got back to my room and noticed that a couple people had emailed the Next House mailing list to give away tickets to showings they were suddenly unable to attend. The physics test caused me to miss three fine opportunities to catch a midnight showing; all tickets were claimed already. At 11:30, as I was diligently working on a pset (ha! I was browsing Reddit), my little Gmail notifier turned blue and I felt a little butterfly as the page loaded. Could it be? Yes, another ticket up for grabs! I claimed it 1 minute after it was announced and ran to retrieve it. I took off sprinting all the way across campus to the Kendall Square T stop. While waiting for the next train, I saw a group of three people. Vaguely recognizing one, I asked if they too were MIT students catching the midnight show. We had a nice chat about who Bond was and what he has become (as a symbol. Not Sean Connery–>Daniel Craig. That would be a short conversation.). We arrived at the theatre near Boston Common at about 11:45. I lost the group on the way out of the station and didn’t see them again in the theatre.

The terribly named movie was alright until about halfway through when I realized I hadn’t completely worked out how I would be getting back, since the T stops running at about 1am. As the hordes of MIT kids exited the theatre, I miraculously ran into the same subway group again. They were three, I was one, so it was natural to split a cab together. We had to walk a couple blocks from the huge group of people by the theatre in order to hail one, but we eventually got back at around 3am. In the taxi I learned their names (Karen, Sara, and Anya, all ’10) and MIT stories. We had a nice chat about how predictable James Bond movies are. They really push the line of suspension of disbelief, particularly in the newest one when Bond jumps out of an airplane with no parachute and… I don’t want to spoil it for you…okay I’ll say it: *Gasp* he survives.

Then on Sunday, the Next House intramural soccer team beat the Parsons Laboratory team 1-0 to (probably) advance to the playoffs! We scored on an awesome cross by Owusu ’11 headed in off the crossbar by Mustafa ’10. Our last match of the regular season, we improved to a record of 3-1. It was a tough game on a muddy field, especially difficult with the insane wind that caused any lobbed ball to drop like a piano from the roof of Baker. Speaking of which, I couldn’t understand the weather this week: Sunny, then rain, then sunny, then overcast once more. Highs in the 60s, to the 40s, then back up to 70 and humid even as late as 9pm, falling the next day to the mid 40s again. Sometimes it’s 10 degrees warmer in Cambridge than the current conditions in Houston; sometimes it’s 30 degrees cooler. They’ve experienced consistent highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s all week. Anyways, I’m not complaining, not yet at least. But woe is this Texan on the first day of snow…which could be tomorrow!

20 responses to “Snapshot of a Week”

  1. Yan says:

    “Quantum of Solace” sounds like either campy sci-fi or something that I’d like a UROP in.

    Props on dim sum at China Pearl! You guys picked one of the best places.

  2. Anonymous says:

    does everyone append numbers to their names?

  3. Anonymous says:

    does everyone append numbers to their names?

  4. Cam '32790 says:

    @Anonymous: No.

    On a more serious note, tell me about it. (The weather.) I myself have been doing a lot of 35mm film SLR photography (recently discovered it), and I dashed (figuratively, I guess, since I drove) to Walden Pond today to catch the sunset but failed because of A) today’s clouds (looks like we’re stuck with them for a while…) and B) being freed of other commitments right about when the sun was setting.

  5. Anon says:

    Said in Agent 47’s tone:

    “The place we were brought up, they gave us numbers. Not names.”

  6. 3badi Zbadi says:

    hi,
    I would like to contact with you, I’m from
    King Fahd University of Petrolum and Minearls
    KFUPM

    best wishes in ur MIT

    c ya
    B)

  7. KelseyK '12 says:

    Oh man, mentioned in a blog! Hahaha…

    You know, the walk back from the Boston Commons theater wasn’t that bad… But a taxi ride would have been nice. smile

    As for your camera… nice! I myself have a Minolta SRT-101. I can’t say I have that many lenses (just normal, telephoto and wide angle) or a decent flash (I have one that takes flashbulbs… ’cause I’m old school), but I can say I got it for free. smile

    Okay, time to go pick music for my show…

  8. Vivi says:

    My mother e-mailed me a few days ago reporting that it was getting chilly in Austin. I was appalled, since during that time it was humid and warm up here. When Texas is colder than Massachusetts, something is wrong.

  9. Keri says:

    I want a fisheye lens so much. </envy>

  10. scan says:

    Where do/did you develop your film?

  11. Cam says:

    @Keri: Me too.

    Or a telephoto.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Well Houston >>>>> Austin anyways
    I can’t wait to get back to the Texas heat!

  13. Angela says:

    It is indeed getting chilly in Austin! I wish it would snow here…but I suppose that would be highly unlikely.

  14. Cam says:

    @scan: MIT has a number of darkrooms. I think one of the bloggers did a post on them a while back, actually.

  15. Ahmed says:

    @Kelsey: Man, it was raining though. Well, not raining, but definitely soggy. Must have been miserable. From what I’ve read, the 100 series and 200 series are almost exactly the same. Pretty neat, never thought I’d meet someone with the nearly the same old school camera.

    @Keri: I haven’t actually used it much. It’s not really all that useful.

    @Scan: I’ve only used about half a roll of film of orientation stuff, so I haven’t developed anything since I got to MIT. Back home I’d just drop it off at a Walgreen’s or something.

    @Cam: Yep, in fact the Tech (MIT student newspaper for all ye prefrosh) is doing teaching a dark room class over IAP but I think you have to be staff to take it.

  16. Cam says:

    @Ahmed: Cool. However, even if you don’t (have to be staff) & it’s open to students, I’m neither.

    I know of some darkrooms I believe are student accessible, though, but am not sure. I’ll ask, post back.

    By the way, color slide film for the win. 21 megapixel slide scans, gorgeous color saturation… yum.

  17. Brian says:

    What is with the gangsta’ description of the chain rule?

  18. hamsi says:

    “…until about halfway through when I realized I hadn’t completely worked out how I would be getting back…”

    ^ this scenario happens ridiculously often in my life, mostly because although i can drive, i have no car of my own. ah woe is me.

    hahaha i love the witty description of Quantum of Solace. “Gasp!” now i can’t watch the movie and be surprised – it’s all your fault =P

  19. Ahmed says:

    Brian, it’s a parody of a parody of Pimp My Ride. Check out the first link in the tagline for this blog post (“food,” the first word).

  20. Joseph says:

    I liked the newest Bond. I’m a hardcore Bond fan, too.

    And [email protected]? Honestly? That’s awesome. I tried to get an engr.utexas.edu but that’s reserved for staff :(