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MIT student blogger Rachel F. '12

Still Alive! by Rachel F. '12

sorry, this has nothing to do with portal

Hey all! It’s been a while. I’ve had a busy last month:

0. I said this post had nothing to do with Portal, but that’s sort of like stating, “I am not going to think about elephants while writing this post” before writing this post. Anyhoo, that reminded me that I finally got around to playing Braid, which is sort of like Portal in that it involves solving puzzles using a novel game mechanic, although IMHO, Braid is way more beautiful and mind-bending. Even without considering the weird metaphorical plot, it’s a true inspiration for my secret pipe dream of becoming an indie game developer. It’s short, and totally worth playing even (especially?) if you consider most games a waste of time.

1. Everything I said in my last post was misinformed, because when I wrote it, I was relaxed about having just tested negative for strep. One and a half weeks later, still coughing up my lungs in a mucosal haze of academic slackery, and shivering despite the toasty warm weather, I woke up from a 20-hour nap and realized that I might not have a harmless cold after all. So I went back to MIT Medical and it turned out I had pneumonia. Woo! Thankfully, S^3 saved the day yet again and told my classes to push back a few project deadlines for me, and antibiotics had me walking around again without falling over after a few days.

2. I am old and need to get a real person job. I’m getting flown out to NYC soon for a full day of being wined, dined, and grilled about algorithms by a software company I interviewed with recently, and many of my weekends this semester are probably going to follow a similar trend. After three years, I have finally learned to relax during software interviews, and hanging out with a bunch of coders is always fun, but having one’s precious weekend time eaten by travel still sucks. Especially when all of one’s massive programming labs are due at the beginning of the week.

3. I painted a bunch of murals. Actually, the time expended on these was negligible compared to most of the other items on this list, but this is an admissions blog, so I always feel obligated to combat the (mostly) untrue coder stereotype of unwashed nerds who can only use the left sides of their brains.

4. I’ve been getting up to speed with web development and better coding practices. On Friday night, I set up and learned a bunch of course-6-y things, like this meta-language that is way simpler to use and more readable and robust than HTML, and it automatically closes tags for you, amongst many more important perks, when you compile it to HTML.

5. I’ve been to some awesome jazz concerts. My jazz professor brought his avant-garde jazz orchestra to MIT’s Killian Hall to play some of his new pieces, and last week, I went to the legendary Scullers Jazz Club (which just so happens to be in Boston) to see Hiromi, who delivered pretty much the most amazing musical experience I’ve ever had.

6. I think I might have accidentally become a tea/coffee connoisseur. I was on my favorite online tea community (I know, right?) the other day, writing a review of how exquisitely the unexpected cocoa notes complemented the robust full-bodied roastiness of my favorite black tea, and also drinking this smoky drip brew I just made that has a really intense, fruity, natural sweetness, and realized that there is very little difference between a connoisseur and an addict who is also a snob. when did this happen what have i become

7. Taking embarrassing pictures of cats napping without waking them up. It happens sometimes.

I just threw in the last two items because I thought they might be funny. But seriously, interviewing for jobs takes time! Landing a full-time software job usually involves a couple of short technical interviews and one all-day extravaganza where you meet the engineers and probably go through a few more interviews. Just getting a software internship usually takes three hour-long interviews. Don’t forget all the interviews take place somewhere between 9am and 5pm in the company’s time zone, which is really awkward for people who wake up late and then go to class the rest of the day. Multiply that by maybe three to five for all the companies you’re interviewing for at the same time, and your calendar starts looking crazy.

This whole rush of self-indulgent activity is probably a side effect of being a senior for the second time. Last time I was a senior, I spent most of my non-robot-building time loafing around and figuring I would start doing cool projects again after I got to the magical wonderland of MIT, instead of honing interesting skill sets, exercising, and switching from Qwerty to Dvorak, which my tendons have regretted ever since. This time around, I’ve realized that the increase in responsibilities one takes on when transitioning from college to the real world is probably going to hit me harder than transitioning from high school to college. So, you know, I want to bask in the luxury of free weekdays and coding things that aren’t for work while I still can.

I think there might be some kind of moral lesson you prefrosh could relate to in that paragraph.

13 responses to “Still Alive!”

  1. T '16? says:

    Hahaha I love ceiling cat!

  2. Hahaha, that last cat picture is so awesome!

  3. Searching It says:

    Sometimes wrong things at right place may do right, though we can’t tell wrong & right

  4. Gene Y. says:

    Aww… I was looking forward to a possible Portal reference smile

    Yeah, pneumonia is terrible. Hope you get better soon!

    P.S. Your cats are adorable! Yes, even ceiling cat, in his own creepy way…

  5. Your murals are rocking. I like the tree. The ceiling cat looks like jumping out any moment.

    I wanted to go to the Hiromi concert. Too bad I was not in town…

    The comment by Searching It seems cryptic yet makes sense in an oddly tangential way.

    I feel like the cats in the photos.

  6. Brandon J. says:

    I feel the point to the part at the end is that college, even MIT, is much less different from high school than real life is from college. Any where close?

    On Braid: I actually wrote a review for it a while back. Lemme go find that…http://aldowyn.blogspot.com/2010/04/creativitys-cradle-and-braid-review.html There we go!

    Hmm. Robot-building. FIRST? Only 6 weeks :/ need sponsors, though. And introducing newbies to the team… Our job this year is to make sure the team lasts, and to make sure to show everyone last year wasn’t a fluke. (Rookie All-Stars, Dallas Regional)

  7. Rachel F. '12 says:

    Brandon J.: it’s pretty different, but then again, I don’t know what real life is like, right?

  8. Covi says:

    I have to comment before I start reading anything after the braid disclaimer:

    Most games are a waste of time; Braid is not. It is art.

    Well, I guess Portal and Machinarium are this sort of game too.

  9. Brandon J. says:

    Rachel F. ’12 Well, yeah, but you can guess, hmm? Real life sounds hard!

    Covi: Heh. Not going to go into that can of worms, but… yeah. I’ve discussed that a bit, also in my blog (gaming blog. I do that… XD I’m totally not trying to look for reasons to quote it!).

    Links, if anyone wants them.

    http://aldowyn.blogspot.com/2010/04/video-games-as-art-and-splinter-cell.html

    http://aldowyn.blogspot.com/2010/07/roger-ebert-maybe-video-games-can-be.html

    P.S. Sorry about all the links. They’re totally relevant!

  10. Rachel F. '12 says:

    Covi: Braid is pretty epic as just a piece of art, though admittedly it’s pretty difficult to disentangle the game from the art. Epilogue = mind blown. But even when you ignore the artsy part (I don’t mean aesthetics), it’s still one of the most enjoyable games I’ve ever played. (Didn’t bother getting the stars, though. lol)

    Brandon J.: Well, real life is obviously different from college in more different ways than high school. I just didn’t want to trivialize MIT’s difficulty. Both experiences are too different from high school and from each other to generalize the transition. I, for example, am terrible at taking tests, but good at feeding myself and working on projects with inhuman intensity, so there’s a possibility it’ll actually be easier for me to switch from college to the real world.

  11. Covi says:

    Don’t you use Vim to code?

  12. Rachel F. '12 says:

    Covi: I still find vim easier to use, yeah

  13. Keith says:

    I was upset this had nothing to do with Portal but the kitties made up for it smile