Friday, May 29, 2009
1. I tried deep fried baby carrots at a poster session this week. What a waste of batter and oil. I mean, I love a good mozzarella stick or cheese curd occasionally, and I can put down Dixie Crossroads corn fritters like there is no tomorrow, but man. What an insane waste of food. I mean, I even love steamed baby carrots! It was pretty epic...everything there was fried. Samosas, balls of rice, chicken fingers, latkes, the "fried veggies" ...ugh. I had to wash my hands twice to get all of the grease off.
(this but battered and deep fried. Thankfully a rare occurance in real life, because I couldn't find an actual picture on Google Images. Whew!)
2. For any diabetes mouse models, you give them a high fat diet. Not a high sugar diet. Proof that I may be okay in the diabetes grudge match my body may have one day (3/4 grandparents with diabetes does not bode well for me). Not that that's any reason to continue eating chocolate chips out of the bag. But they're so good! The sad thing is that I love fruit as well...so I go on mango-eating binges and then...eat chocolate. My body is just sugar starved. Or something.
3. Ice cream batch number 1 was a success! I think I need to use smaller sugar granules next time (or perhaps more vigorous whisking) but it was quite delicious. Something a bit more exciting than vanilla is in store for my next attempt.
4. I can haz orchestra?
I received an email inviting me to be a part of the MIT Philharmonic Orchestra - the summer session of orchestra here....responded saying I would absolutely LOVE to...and was told that "sorry - there are already enough horn players continuing on from last year." Uh...I guess? It's kind of jerky to turn people away from, you know, a student orchestra, but whatever. I don't care. I was also slated to play in the opera Carmen this summer with the Boston Opera Collaborative, but that was unfortunately the same weekend as a family reunion. Don't get me wrong---I'm very excited to see family as well as friends in Chicago the weekend before (plus TWO nights of Ravinia!) but does anyone know any fun gigs for me in Boston?
5. Quals are on Tuesday, I'm going to NYC in TWO weekends, and I am at work at 7:30 pm on a Friday night. Yay science!
Monday, May 25, 2009
Slightly depressing, I know. But I unfortunately don't have any pictures of my grandfather from the war/with planes on my computer. So, a picture of his grave in Fort Snelling Memorial Cemetery as well as a picture of him and my grandmother holding me after the pre-kindergarten talent show will have to do (I line danced!)
Also, in true Gugisberg fashion, I may drop by the store later to pick up some Old Crow (we took shots at his funeral party). Today has been a working holiday, as my quals are in eight days, but I made ice cream yesterday and watched a movie with friends, as well as making truffles for the study group tonight---I'm always trying to improve my "work hard, play hard" ratio as per Pa's advice.
Thank you to all the service men and women out there for all that you do---it means a lot...to all of us.
For some beautiful and moving Memorial Day pictures, please see here.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
and milk glass! I have a milk glass candy dish!
and a gravy boat. Because it's beautiful.
Also--it's official. I'm going to become a vintage plate lady. No cats for me...just lovely old dishes. I'm going to be the person everyone goes to when planning parties: "Hey Bridget - I was thinking of doing sort of a 60s sort of party to watch the 'Mad Men' season finale--do you have anything for that?"
Why, yes, in fact. I do.
The pineapple/grenades are pretty much my favorite.
Also, if you haven't been to Macy's home section lately, don't. Martha Stewart has her new line out in all its spring glory, and all of the packaging is just the perfect shade of blue. It will suck you in and make you want to live in pastel-world eating macaroons all day. I'm serious. I kept the box my new stainless steel bowls came in because I couln't bear to forget the color. Sick. I don't know how she does it.
And these two plates are perfect for those late nights when someone comes down, knocks on my door and asks for a cup of tea. While the pot boils on the stove, I'll bring down these two plates, and serve us some cookies or a muffin.
And after some fennel tea steeps, we talk things over---life will be calm and beautiful.
Some may argue, "You are collecting STUFF! You're forming these attachments to material objects. That's bad!" And to that I say...well...I guess? If I call it a collection does that make it better? And, according to the GRTs I have been talking to, I will actually need all of the plates and glasses I can get. So...my addiction isn't so bad after all. It at least has a defined purpose.
Also - does anyone know what these are?
They were inside a pyrex container that was taped shut that I bought this past fall. They are about 1.5 inches diameter, and I just cannot figure out for the life of me what they are for. Anyone?
Not only sushi, but this delicious concoction called Mochi Ice Cream - it's basically ice cream balls wrapped in a rice paste fondant. And it's amazingly addictive. As in...wow. Green tea ice cream rice paste deliciousness.
Most of the students there were only there for the food (slightly typical, but apparently there is usually a higher turnout to the actual performance than 3/30. We walked across the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge and all the way to Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory. The performance was the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and they played almost exclusively new music, including a concerto for trap set (=drumset).
I know how hard it is to play modern music sometimes...you have no one to look for to how things "should" sound, parts are almost impossible if not extremely difficult or in obscure ranges, and people in the audience don't usually appreciate/understand it as well as, say, Mozart or Bach.
Yet, as someone who has played a lot of it, as well as someone who knows lots of great composers (hey Daniel!), playing new music is sometimes more rewarding than actually listening to it only once. When you rehearse a piece over and over, you begin to appreciate the intricacy of certain rhythms, or how certain harmonies you find at first distasteful begin to make sense.
However, I was VERY impressed by all of the composers and had a great time.
Thomas Oboe Lee
Friday, May 22, 2009
The Dalai Lama came to campus recently in order to dedicate The Dalai Lama Center of Ethics and Transformative Values -- an interesting but fitting addition to a university dedicated to learning and understand and the ultimate application of discovery.
He's quite possibly one of my favorite people ever: through his wisdom, humor, and practicality, he is a religious leader grounded in science and inquiry. His messages are devoid of proselytization and encourage peace, forgiveness, and seeing the good in everyone:
"I love your former president George Bush. He was so honest and straightforward. But as far as his policies are concerned, I have reservations.”
He touched on the current economic crisis, saying ironically, "Something’s human-created, but it’s beyond human control?" Wall Street, I believe that is your cue to say, "Oh shoot. Sorry about that...let's fix this."
He described "secular" not as an absence of belief, but as a mode of treating religious belief and non-belief with equal respect...and that ethics can exist without depending on a particular religion. He encouraged the development of a global code of ethics in order to better solve problems on a global scale, since the world as we know if is not isolated groups of people; we are in fact all interacting and dependent on each other and the environment. The bottom line is we need a better way to communicate how to do what is right.
One of the most meaningful moments for me was when he said something to the effect of "I am Buddhist and it works for me. But it does not work for everyone. And I could never force things that will not work on other people. "
You see, I don't work in black and white. And I certainly don't work with hate. Which is part of the reason I have had a hard time in the past in spiritual matters. Showing pictures of vacuumed out baby parts isn't love. It's propaganda and hate, demonizing someone who is hurt and suffering into a terrible awful person worthy of all damnation. Saying that the only one true family is a mother, a father, and children and that they are the only ones worthy of love is not representative of the families of the past or those now...and you have to look no farther than stories in the old or new testament to your neighbors down the street to confirm the irrefutable fact that love can happen in all sorts of families. I value thoughts and science and love and working together and chocolate chip cookies and wearing cotton dresses. I don't fit into a box. And I'm glad that he recognizes that people are not born perfect cubes that fit in just right without any trouble at all.
It's like when you're a little kid your mom keeps forcing you to wear socks. You hate socks, ergo you pull them off. After experience, cold feet, scrapes, and all sorts of other abuse, you start to see the point of socks. And maybe you wear the white cotton ones with pink bows your mom had you wear when you were little...or maybe you start to love bright colored bobby socks...or maybe you forgo socks and wear patterned tights instead, though you also enjoy being barefoot on the beach.
Point? Thank you for realizing that all people are different, that all people have a varied and difficult journey to find meaning and faith in something, including what kind of box they want to fit in. It means a lot.
After he spoke, he opened up the floor for questions, and one student asked about how he would suggest reconciling thoughts of peace with being a student whose job it was to work developing weapons (a very relevant question here at MIT, for sure, where all of the DOD work had to be hidden out at Draper Labs during Vietnam). His response was that individual disarmament is easy, but that sort of thing is hard to accomplish at a wider scale---which he hopes will happen by the end of the century. And in the meantime, he suggested that if you find things in your work morally objectionable, contact your senator, or volunteer with advocacy organizations that are working to help de-militarization efforts.
He also challenged MIT engineers to come up with a weapon that doesn't hurt innocent people. Anyone up for the challenge?
For more articles on the Dalai Lama's visit to MIT, please see the center's website, the school newspaper, or a religious blog covering the event.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Anyways, I went to see Ben Folds back during first semester, Sara Barielles in February, and then...wait for it....Sara Barielles AND Ben Folds at MIT's spring concert a few weeks ago.
First - I want to give Ben Folds a lot of credit for trying something new in the first concert (the first concert of his tour, actually) -- he played all of his new stuff for an hour and went on to play an hour of old stuff. It didn't work. At all. I was pretty entertained by the fact that he and his bands recorded a fake album to leak...with all the same song titles. Love it. BUT --the audience didn't know what was going on with the music, and got kinda bored, which is really lame. Especially for a concert.
So--I was very glad to see him mix it up for the MIT concert. He also sang a song with the lyrics "I'm at MIT where they know technical intelligent shit" which yes, made my night. The concert was also in a gym prompting him to say "and then there's this echo thing. And it makes me feel like there is always someone there who is reminding me how stupid I am." (promise it was funnier live).
There was also someone (I'm pretty sure I know her) who shouted "Go french horn!" after a there was a French horn counter-melody that was played by a real-live hornist on stage. He stopped noodling on his keyboard, looked into the audience, and said, "You know this is a sophisticated place when people get excited about a French horn. Because man....most colleges don't give a fuck."
And Sara was great - I love her style and silly stories ("So--I was reading a random review someone sent me of one of my shows, and it said that I wrote this next song about my dad, because, you know, he left when I was younger. [pause] Too bad that's not true"). She also brought out her ukelele for the last few songs, which was fantastic:
Sara playing Rhianna's "Umbrella" on ukelele = epic. (and don't miss the Eagles in there, too!)
Ben Folds also did a pretty epic version of Dr. Dre's "Bitches Ain't Shit," (note--profanity-filled)
(also, I'd really like to know how these people smuggled in video cameras, because there were four metal detectors and full strip search at the entrance..so yes. I'm confused).
And one of my favorites:
Ben Fold's Effington (notice the shout out to Normal, Illinois!)
However - I'm hoping to branch out next year. Hopefully Beiruit comes into town. Please?
Friday, May 15, 2009
This one is a bit hard to read: sorry about the quality. I'm going to ask them if they can do high quality scanned and reproduced images to include with the books when they are going to be donated.
Harold Welch Fairchild
"Hal"; Born April 29, 1908; Prepared at Pelham High School; Aeronautical Engineering; Osiris; Pi Delta Epsilon; Tau Beta Pi; Theta Tau; Varsity Club; Aeronautical Engineering Society; Gym, Varsity Team (2, 3, 4), Captain (4); Wearer of the "T"; Field Day Marshal (4); Technique, Treasurer (2), Photographic Manager (3), Resigned, Business Manager (3); M.I.T.A.A (4); Prize Song Committee Chairman (3); R.O.T.C.; Entered Freshman Year.
I'm going to try contacting the fraternities and see if I come up with anything as well...
Here's a bit more about the Song Committee:
and also the obituary that appeared in the Technology Review in 1933: ("1929" refers to the 1929 graduates that passed away)
I still haven't heard back from Pratt and Whitney, but I'd like to find out more about his time there as well as see the back issues for SAE.
I will be going down to New York to present the three books I have in June. What a story!
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Things I have to do in the next month:
EDIT - I had late reactions to molds. One week later and I am still reacting. Oops?
"Horns were impeccable yet nuanced in their articulation" thank you, MIT Tech Newspaper!
- lab meeting presentation on current results
----interim---- =study my brains out. (working on this right now. woo-hoo?)
June 2 - Qualifying Examination. six hours of fun, baby!
June 3 - make 18 batches of ice cream. EDIT: these are using my new ice cream maker. I cannot wait. :D
Also in the works is a quick weekend trip to New York City in June, Chicago for a weekend this summer, and a week at home. Should be wonderful!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
It was rainy last night, and the grey/bright green spring showers have continued today. While I do love these days---the drizzle and rain, the calm...I like them better when I get to stay at home and work on my computer, or peacefully read a book. It's not really my favorite to have to slog in to work by 9 am, do two hours of lab stuff, then four hours of class, and then lab meeting and orchestra, while trying to fit in studying and getting ready for a presentation tomorrow in my pathophysiology class. One of these days, the rainy day will be on a Saturday, and I will be able to cuddle up in my hypothetical big bed and my hypothetical West Elm pin-tuck duvet cover and read a book.
The closest I get to either of those right now is sit on top of my dorm-furniture bed with my college sheets/comforter and read papers like "Different aa-TRNAs are selected unifromally on the Ribosome." Let me tell you, that one is really a thriller. You won't be able to put it down...
Monday, May 4, 2009
There was a 600 pound concrete sphere painted like a bomb implanted on the lawn of Kresage (right where I have practice for orchestra) last week. On it were the initials "DYTD" a reference to a party to be held in Burton-Connor that night.
First - I'm not an undergraduate here, and while I will be living with them next year (super excited to, at that!) --- I don't necessarily understand hacking culture. And I don't mean to be the "old person ruining someone's fun." But come on! There is something in the hacking code about, oh, I don't know "common sense."
Here is the code: (and for more pictures, see here)
- Be subtle. Don't leave evidence that you were there.
-Always leave things as you found them, or better.
-Leave no permanent damage, both during hacks and while hacking.
-Don't steal anything. If you must borrow something, always return it-- perhaps even leave a note saying when it will be returned.
-Brute force is the last resort of the incompetent.
-Sign-ins should not be seen by the general public. Sign-ins exhibit one's pride in having found a location. Most hackers aren't proud of discovering Lobby 7.
-Don't drink and hack. Enough said.
-Don't drop things (without a ground crew).
-Don't hack alone.
-Above all, exercise common sense
There's also a well-accepted addition about hacks being "enjoyable."
As in, covering the new president's door with bulletin boards is hilarious. And safe.
Dressing up the big dome as R2D2 is quite creative.
I mean, really! You are in college! And I'm all about the letting people make mistakes to learn (I screw up everyday and remind myself that that is how learning is). So--they shouldn't be expelled. But they should have to learn that they were, yes, WRONG. And to all the alum that wrote the following letter in the Tech, I have a few words for you:
"I gradutated M.I.T. in 2000, just in time to see a thriving campus life undercut time after time by overzealous security measures enacted by spineless administrators in the face of mobs of Cambridge citizens and failed parents looking to the university system as a surrogate. I’ve seen the fraternity system whittled down and student freedoms trampled, their voices silenced on issue after issue, as former school bureaucrats move on to positions of power (or is that infamy) in certain (here unnamed) governments.
Now I read that the school is forcing the Burton Third Bombers to pay for a spurious bomb scare all bit the most obtuse Homer Simpson caricature would have dismissed instantly.
Any chance that I would ever donate to M.I.T. again is now gone. I would, however, like to help the Bombers (who were so very good to me) in their financial plight. I call on my fellow alumni to do the same: divert your contributions directly to student associations you support. Don’t let them use your money to destroy what makes our school unique.
If you let this stand, don’t blame me when the next car atop Lobby 10 results in terrorism prosecutions.
Scott, here's the deal. MIT is one of the US's largest research institutions, and we've produced 73 Nobel Laureates, 47 National Medal of Science recipients, and 31 MacArthur Fellows. The aggregated revenues of companies founded by MIT affiliates would make it the seventeenth largest economy in the world. Sorry to break it to you, but this makes us a very tangible target for a terrorist bombing. And as Boston and Cambridge are very densely populated cities, a bomb here would be a huge blow to America. Quite literally. MIT absolutely did the right thing. And the students who thought it would be funny---well--take your funny-ness all the way to the bank. Or volunteer your time in compensation for your mistake. And don't get me wrong...I acutally have friends that live in Burton-Connor...but they made a wrong choice. Just like I was stupid and didn't call my mom to let her know that I was staying late at a friend's birthday sleepover to watch Chocolat and summarily had to paint an entire garage as punishment...there needs to be an understanding of MIT hackers that this sort of nonsense will not be tolerated. I'm on your side concerning the insensitivy to such an important aspect of MIT that the administration pulled and I cheered your act of silent protest by covering up the hacks on display in Stata. But look at those ethics of hacking...and think of them whenever you come up with "good ideas" in the future.
Second, we were mentioned in the New York Times:
"Even the wealthiest universities are pinched. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced it was cutting eight teams — Alpine skiing, competitive pistol, golf, wrestling and men’s and women’s ice hockey and gymnastics — as a way to trim $1.5 million from its athletic budget."
(see here for the Tech article)
Um. Where to start? First of all, if you want wealthy, look a mile down Mass Ave. Sure, we have substantial grant money for research, but I would not consider us a "wealthy" school by any means. Construction has been halted all over campus, and we've all gotten the emails about "these economic times." We have broken elevators, more potholes than you can shake a stick at, and IT department that needs a lot more help than you would expect, derelict properties all over Cambridge...anyone here will tell you that they were thought things would be "better" because "This is MIT!" Now, I'm not trying to pan the school I attend. But let's be realistic: MIT pays for top-notch research equipment, and lets other stuff slide in the process. Our campus does not match, and nor does it aspire to. And I'm totally cool with that.
Anyway, back to athletics. As a disclosure, I am not an athlete. In fact, I am almost the anti-athlete, as pretty much every object smaller than a refrigerator that is thrown, tossed, kicked, bounced, or otherwise used in a sport has made contact with some part of my body and caused bruising at some time or another. Even Omnikin Ball was dangerous (holla Ms. Boll! haha...only RAHS people will get that joke. Ah well). I plan to play IM hockey on the BE team next year, a non-checking sport. I hear Eric groaning--"what's the fun in that?!" The fun, dear sir, is not being so beat up that I can walk And don't role your eyes at me, brother-who-hit-me-in-the-mouth-with-a-puck-when-I-had-braces.
Right now, as someone NOT playing on a team, I'm most likely in the minority, as MIT actually has one of the most active athletics programs. Anywhere. We have officially have 41 varsity level sports (well---make that 33 now), 30 club sports and 23 intramural sports. And whaddya know--our best teams are pistol and fencing. In fact, the pistol team has won two national championships over the last five years, competing on a high level against the country’s military academies.
An editor at the Tech writes:
"They canceled pistol. Really? I know desperate times call for desperate measures, but times must be really desperate if the Institute’s last resort was to anger a bunch of expert marksman. These guys can shoot the clubs out of a playing card from 20 yards, and you want to make them upset? Check the endowment. We must be more broke than Harvard. At least Harvard only had to evict some of the most preeminent biologists in the world to save money.
But whatever the administration’s motives, the truth is, we need pistol. The value of the pistol team extends far beyond their ability to hit quarter sized objects 300 yards out while reciting the digits of pi. They were a source of pride for MIT. They were our one really good sports team. Thanks to pistols, we were able to proudly proclaim that we were better than Army at something considered a sport."
I respect the skill that these students have and their outrage at the way they were railroaded.
There's a lot of hullabullo here that the administration did not give "due" warning to the teams and those involved: they were not allowed to present fundraising proposals, nor given more than a year's notice of disbanding. A common practice in the athletics world is to let programs they have one year to show that the sport means something to both the community and the athletes...an idea which seems, uh, kind of obvious to me.
Yet, I understand what balancing the budget means, and I've been personally affected by budget cuts in my schools since kindergarten. So, MIT---what to do? I say rescind your statement, give all teams a year to raise funds and organize, and look for other places besides directly cutting sports. How about fixing the AC levels in all of the buildings to lower energy costs? I'd like that one. I'd also be okay with having to buy a $50/semester pass to the Z Center---it is a facility that is well-worth the cost.