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MIT student blogger Sam M. '07

Train in vain by Sam M. '07

Pulling my first official all-nighter of the fall term.

Yesterday, I went to Six Flags New England with Ling ’07, Erica ’07, Simon ’04, and Nick. Now, you might think that would be fairly expensive for a one day trip. Well, as Ling’s itemized bill clearly shows, it was actually not too heavy on the wallet at all:

$15 gas
$3.60 x 2 = 7.20
$1.00 x 2 = $2

$2 darts among Erica, Ling, Simon
$5 ring toss among everyone
$5 jacob’s ladder among Erica, Ling, Simon, Sam

Erica paid $2 darts.
Sam paid $3.60 tolls and $5 jacob’s ladder.
Nick paid $5 ring toss.
Simon paid $3.60 + $2 + $15 gas and tolls.

gas and tolls:
$4.84 each

$.67: Erica, Ling, Simon = $5.51

ring toss:
$1: Erica, Ling, Simon = $6.51; Sam, Nick = $5.84

jacob’s ladder:
$1.25: Erica, Ling, Simon = $7.76; Sam = $7.09; Nick = $5.84

Total = $36.20

Erica owes $5.76
Ling owes $7.76
Simon owes -$12.84
Sam owes -$1.51
Nick owes $.84

past expenses:
Nick owes Simon $4.84
Levi owes Simon $8.59
Ling owes Nick $.50

Ling gives Sam $1.51
Ling gives Simon $6.75 ($6.25 + $.50 for Nick)
Erica gives Simon $5.76
Nick gives Simon $5.18

That might be a little more thorough than the average MIT student would go, but not too much. You should see MIT students try to split the bill at a restaurant. Everybody’s a math nerd, nobody brought small bills, and we’re all too timid to ask the waiter for change. It’s truly a beautiful disaster.

Of course, I also had to pay to get into the park; however, since Ling, Erica, and Simon were smart enough to buy a family pack of season passes (which pay for themselves after two visits) this summer, I was able to do that for the low, low price of only $20, which is actually pretty reasonable for eight hours at a theme park. Actually, it was just about worth that much to get in the pool at Hurricane Harbor for five minutes.

On the drive up, topics of conversation included the plot of Harry Potter and its relationship to Stalin’s scorched earth policy. However, the real fascinating thing was this variation on Zeno’s Paradox brought up by Simon–if you drop a ball from a height of 10 feet and with each successive bounce it bounces half as high as the previous bounce, how long does it take for the ball to come to rest? With a little 8.01 (Mechanics) and 18.01 (Calculus), it’s not too difficult to prove that the answer is 4.61 seconds. Still, try wrapping your brain around that answer. It could take you all night. Don’t worry about it that much. Get some sleep; MIT does not accept insomniacs.

The park put in two new rides this year–Typhoon, a “sea coaster” that uses conveyor belts to pull your raft uphill in a glorified water slide, and Mr. Six’s Pandemonium, a small roller coaster with rotating seats. The first was surprisingly fun, and featured sheets of water flowing uphill, which was fascinating from a fluid mechanics perspective. We didn’t go on the second because the line was long and slow-moving, and seriously, Mr. Six just creeps me the heck out.


Oh, he gives me THE SHIVERS.

I drifted in and out of uneasy dreams on the way home, but I think that somebody randomly asked at some point how a Faraday cage works conceptually, or maybe that’s just something that I’ve been wondering myself… even though I should have learned it perfectly in 8.022. We also sang along to Wham! a lot. Then we went to a gas station where they ran out of gas… or so they said. Then we wondered some more about why that stupid ball would stop bouncing after 4.61 seconds. Do you get it yet? It’s really hard.

Yeah, that was an awesome way to spend a Sunday with a 75-degree dew point and a 101-degree heat index. Mitra once said that when she tells Northern Californians she goes to MIT, their first comment is always, “Oh, but the weather is so cold there.”

Never let anybody tell you that again.

Had I not gone to Six Flags, I would have gone to see the “24-hour show” performed by the MIT Shakespeare Ensemble, advertised below:

(So maybe we’re crazy, but this is art.)

YOU are invited to:

plan, conceive, co-write, design, tech, direct, rehearse, memorize,
perform (act, improv, sing, dance, play, etc.), document (film, video,
photo, report, interview, etc.), advise, donate resources, go on food
runs, watch, clap, or otherwise contribute to

** THE 24-HOUR SHOW **

a play in a day, produced by the MIT Shakespeare Ensemble, with help

( see )

Organize *TONIGHT* at 5pm (less than 2 hours from now!)
Start the process *TONIGHT* at 7pm
Perform the show *TOMORROW* at 7pm

We would *especially* like people to FILM the entire process (BYOC, but
we should be able to pay for the tapes), and we’d really like more
WRITERS and ACTORS. It’s also important to note that WE DON’T NEED
EVERYONE FOR THE ENTIRE 24 HOURS. If you have ANY time or resources to
contribute to this creative masochism, it would be MUCH appreciated.
For an inside look into (a draft of) what we expect the process to look
like, read this: .

The insanity begins in LESS THAN TWO hours. Email [email protected]
if you want to help in any way, and then show up at the Ensemble Office
on the 4th floor of the Student Center (room 423).

If you just want to see the fruits of our labor/insomnia, show up at
** Kresge Little Theater at 7pm on Sunday (tomorrow! (FREE!!!)) **

Again, if you need more info or want updates, please email us at
[email protected] .

Hope to see you soon!

for the 24-Hour Show

Had I gone to that play instead, I also might have started packing my room before 11:30 PM that evening. I don’t have to move out of my summer room next Sunday, but I spontaneously decided to come home this week because my beloved high school friend Shana is spending the next year in France and Cameroon and leaving on Wednesday. Anyway, my moving plan quickly changed from “Oh, I’ll just get everything moved by 2 and then I’ll have time to decorate” to “Uhhh, if I just have it moved by 4 I’ll at least have time to make my bed before I leave” to “ARRRRGH I JUST HAVE TO GET THIS JUNK OUT OF MY ROOM SO I CAN MAKE THE 6:15 TRAIN.” I wasn’t completely sure I could make the train, but thanks to the websiteAnthony designed when he was like 11, I was able to buy one of the last tickets at 3 AM. Thanks to Dave, the greatest night security guard in the history of Burton-Conner, I was able to get all my stuff moved just in the nick of time. And finally, thanks to the MTBA, I was able to leave my room at 5:20 AM, immediately after moving five cinderblocks halfway across my dorm, and still get to South Station in time for a cheese croissant from Au Bon Pain and a cup of chamomile tea.

I thought taking the 6:15 AM train would be nice because who wants to ride the train at 6:15 on a Monday morning? That’d give me plenty of room to stretch out and sleep after my first all-nighter of Fall 2005. Well, I stretched out until Stamford, CT, when every seat on the train was suddenly filled. Apparently Stamfordians like to go to New York on Monday mornings. Long story short, a man asked if he could be my neighbor, I said yes, and then I woke up five hours later, mere moments before reaching Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. I was lying with my face down on my tray table in a saliva-soaked copy of Guns, Germs, and Steel open to page 21.

Don’t tell MIT libraries why their copy of Guns, Germs, and Steel is all wet, now.

So, I’m back in Harrisburg for the week. What is there to do in Harrisburg? Tonight we went to Ben’s basement and played house in his Fisher-Price Party Kitchen. I was the detective. Why any mother would have bought her son a Party Kitchen is beyond me, but I remember owning one exactly like it, so maybe I should ask Sam’s Mom. Then we tried to do Tamilee Webb’s vintage, femullet-tastic Ultimate Ab Workout, but failed miserably. We built a human pyramid, which quickly toppled, just like the real pyramids, and later invented five separate games using only a broken copy of Hungry Hungry Hippos. Allison hit her head trying to defeat Mike an then we all laughed for a long time. Matt knows more about The Golden Girls than most people. Then we had an insightful conversation about teaching intelligent design, which is getting to be a big issue around here. Then we all smacked Mike with a foam hammer, laughed at Bill O’Reilly, and threw popcorn at each other.

It’s a day in the life, people.

4 responses to “Train in vain”

  1. Jessie says:

    “You should see MIT students try to split the bill at a restaurant. Everybody’s a math nerd, nobody brought small bills, and we’re all too timid to ask the waiter for change. It’s truly a beautiful disaster.”

    You guys don’t just go Communist when you go out to eat en masse? I guess that makes sense if you’re in a group of, say, four rather than fifteen.

  2. Alaina says:

    Well, I think back to that one night at Friendly’s I told you about this weekend when the check came and she asked if wanted separate checks. You promptly said, “No, we’re pretty good at math.” Granted only 1/3 of the table was composed of MIT math nerds (well, at the time, Future MIT math nerds)…

  3. Mitra says:

    Behind his hazel eyes, Mr. Six is an ugly disaster.

  4. Ruth says:

    Communists would eat “to his ability” and pay “to his need.” And as we’ve seen, determining those numbers is harder than any math we learn at MIT.