Another week, another installment of your weekly Random Hall-related summer readings. Feels just like high school English class all over again, doesn’t it?

So you all should have had over a week now to get accustomed to the idea of where you’ll be staying for the first week or so before the fall semester. At the very least, if you’re coming to stay with us in Random Hall, you should know your room number by now — if you don’t, go email random-questions@mit and someone should be with you momentarily to help you figure things out.

(On that note, if you have any questions at all but feel weird leaving comments, you should email random-questions@mit.)

And if you’ve been keeping up with your summer reading, you should also know by now which floor you’re on in which building, and perhaps have a vague sense of what that floor what might be like. But since there’s no kill like overkill and I’m beginning to run out of ideas for summer reading posts, this week we are going to attempt to go into excruciating detail about floor cultures on the 282 side of the dorm, along with their corresponding room numbers so you’ll know for certain where you are and what you should expect.

(Kitchen and lounge features to be discussed in a later post. This week’s and next week’s installments will be solely based on the culture and the people as I understand them, since for some reason no one could be convinced to write a blurb about themselves over summer break.)

Continue reading ‘[Random Hall] CYOA — Turn Left’

Oh hey there, reader(s). It’s been approximately a week since the last Random Hall-related post, which means we are just in time for the next installment of your summer reading!

By now, you’ve hopefully found out where you’ll be temporarily lodging for the duration of REX. If you haven’t yet, though, that’s also fine — unlike the housing lottery, room assignments vary by dorm, and as a result, different dorms will finish assigning and releasing their prefrosh assignments at different times.

In Random Hall, the initial temporary assignment is fairly… random. You get assigned a room just so you’ll have some place to sleep, but this initial assignment does not account for any of your likes, dislikes, possible interests, etc. Your first room is but a resting point, a swap space of sorts, some place for us to put you until you decide what you want to do with yourself.

So how do you make that decision? You visit all the floors and get a feel for the culture. But we’re covering that in a later post — for today, let’s discuss the housing process itself, and the logistics behind choosing a room for the semester.

Continue reading ‘[Random Hall] “But I Don’t Want to Pack Again!”’

First of all, welcome, prefrosh! You should have all gotten your rooming assignments yesterday — if you still don’t know where you’re staying this REX, go triple check all your email addresses again or complain to MIT housing. :)

For the rest of you, hi! Welcome to MIT. And Random Hall. But mostly MIT. I am suffering under no delusions that some of you, especially the guys, may not have gotten into the dorm that you want, especially if it was Random Hall. Sorry about that. But hey, there’s still FYRE, right? Still plenty of time to try to transfer in. Or, you know, see other dorms and decide that you fit in Next House or East Campus better.

(I’m being supportive and open-minded. Wheee.)

Since you’re still reading, though, I’m going to assume that you have some passing interest in Random Hall — if in not living in it, at least in not coming in completely clueless and getting lost between the two donuts.

(Also, I was sorted Slytherin. ‘Cuz we can’t all be witty and intellectual.)

Continue reading ‘[Random Hall] So You’ve Been Sorted Into Ravenclaw’

I woke up this morning to the shocking realization that I’d already squandered away half of my summer without managing to write up a single blog post. In my defense, this was not for lack of interesting activities to blog about — in the past month and a half, I’ve designed a T-shirt, managed seven high school students, written at least two lesson plans and three different Python scripts, played with karpathy’s character-based recurrent neural network, ingested copious amounts of tea, taught my computer to (badly) generate Taylor Swift music, and come up with at least three different events for the four or so days of REX that we’re getting this fall.

(Once again, Random Hall has a ton of events planned for REX, run by the same ten people or so. You’ll see me around, pre-froshlings.)

But since there’s not much interesting stuff going on at MIT right now and we’re a few weeks away from opening our doors to the Class of 2019, I figured I should probably devote a few posts in the upcoming weeks to stuff that future residents might be interested in. So behold — a rough schedule of what to expect from the blog in the following weeks, depending on how motivated I am:

July 18th, 2015 : So You’ve Been Sorted Into Ravenclaw

July 25nd, 2015 : “But I Don’t Want to Pack Again!”

August 1st, 2015 : CYOA — Turn Left

August 8th, 2015 : CYOA — Turn Right

August 15th, 2015 : Finding the Proverbial Water Cooler

August 22nd, 2015 : You Don’t Really Need That Mini-fridge

August 29th, 2015 : …And Don’t Forget to Bring Your Towel!

I’m sure I’ll come up with some content to match the titles sometime before the end of the week. They’re deliberately obtuse enough to fit any old topic I might want to write about. Expect the posts to show up at 8am on the aforementioned days — they’ll be written beforehand, then dispensed in an orderly manner through the scheduling feature so information isn’t being spammed over the course of a single week.

The past two weeks passed by in a blur. I spent much of the entire time punting this blog post, telling myself that I would write it tomorrow or the next day or even the day after that, when I would have more time to put down my thoughts and feelings while not tethered to the looming specter of finals and having to pack up my room for the year.

Now that I actually have that freedom though, it seems like I don’t actually have much to say. As it turns out, two years (omg! two years!) in this place have trained me to be wary of the calm — it’s the temporary lull before the storm, and I can already see all the things I’ll be busy with over the next few months.

So in lieu of a recap on all the finals I took and the cleaning I did this past week (trust me, it wasn’t that interesting anyways), let’s briefly summarize all the stuff I plan to do this summer so we can move on to discussing Random Hall-related stuff and convincing prefrosh (such as yourself! maybe.) to join us in the fall. :)

Continue reading ‘Let Me Count the Ways’

The past weekend has been a special kind of code monkey hell for me. I’ve woken up, gotten on my laptop, debugged a few things, grabbed some kind of sustenance, gone back to my laptop, debugged a few more things, Google’d a bunch of incomprehensible error codes, and reinstalled three different operating systems no less than three times each. And in between the finagling I was LaTeXing an essay, writing up my implementation of the EM algorithm, choosing my Junction mentees, and working on fixing some dependency annotations for my UROP.

Several of those things in that list were very preventable. In fact, if I really went down to the root of it, it could be very easily said that all of my problems this past weekend stemmed from last Thursday afternoon, when I looked at my 6.036 project, my two 24.900 essays, and my Japanese interview test on Monday, and I said, “Man. I should really install Arch Linux.”

Kids, don’t install Arch Linux.

Continue reading ‘Self-induced Workloads’

In Progress

30 Apr 15

Fangfei S. ’13 came by a few days ago while I was at desk and handed me a little Ziploc bag of kumquats. They were so cute, I wanted to give them all names and little smiley faces and adopt them as my babies. There were around twenty of them, all small and oblong and yellow-orange in color, just begging to be salted, squished into a glass jar, and left near a bright window for about a month before being smooshed into salted kumquat lemonade.

(What, just me? In my household, we’ve only ever had kumquats in the form of tắc muối, the Vietnamese lemonade remix feat. kumquats.)

So after my desk shift, I threw the kumquats in a jar with some coarse sea salt and put them by the window in Anthony L. 15’s room, which has better access to sunlight and is therefore marginally better for salting kumquats than my window. Ideally, the jar would be outside, soaking up the heat and the warm California sun, but Boston as of late has been lacking in both heat and the warm California sun, so Anthony’s window it is.

The kumquats finally began to visibly diffuse into the salt last night. It’s been pretty exciting.

Continue reading ‘In Progress’

There’s a light in the front half of my dormitory room that went out several months ago. Rather than call facilities to ask for it repaired, I let it stay out; I decided that I didn’t really need that light, that I was slightly reducing my energy consumption, and that I aesthetically liked the darkness in that half of my room, which pretty much became the “dark half”, especially after I painted a lot of its walls black.

Strangely, though, even though it would usually not turn on when I flipped the light switch for my room, every once in a while I am surprised by being greeted with light as I enter my room, after which I look up to realize that my front light was, in fact, actually on. Sometimes when this happened, the light would go out after a brief amount of time, but enough of the time, it resiliently shined on until I was done using my room and turned the light off again.

I’d expect that when a light has gone out for a prolonged period of time, any moments when it lights up again are its last gasps of warmth, but somehow, after dozens and dozens of days, it still sometimes turns back on, and occasionally stays on for quite a while. It was on when I started this post, and is still on.

I feel almost as if it is reflecting the experience of an MIT student, shining enthusiastically through the start of its time there, but eventually becoming jaded of the dominance of the more ugly workings of this place, yet every once in a while resolving to make something happen, to change something, sure that hope could be made if not found, often just briefly before returning to a resignation that TFP will continue to be TFP.

The light is still on right now. It has quite the hopes today.

One Ring(s)

22 Apr 15

(The obligatorily badly-punned title because I am too tired to be clever.)

MIT’s Class of 2017 finally got its Brass Rat today. For the uninitiated, the Brass Rat is effectively MIT’s class ring, designed by the appropriate class-elected ring committee and unveiled to MIT undergraduates during our sophomore year. Back in February, we had all been given a preview of this year’s ring at Ring Premiere and given a week or so to purchase one in Lobby 13 — today, we went to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston to pick our rings up and socialize with our peers.

Random Hall Class of 2017

Continue reading ‘One Ring(s)’

As a segue into this week’s post and a return to our more regular blogging, here’s another image of some food I made:

2015-04-15 01.11.10

These little balls of mung bean fried in a rice flour dough and rolled in sesame seeds are bánh cam, a Southern Vietnamese sweet food. There also exist a Northern Vietnamese variant, bánh rán, and a similar Cantonese sweet food, 煎堆.

The past few weeks have been busy, as usual. But with CPW less than 24 hours away and my prefrosh coming tomorrow afternoon — hi prefrosh! — things are looking to wind down a bit for the weekend — at least, for those of us who’ve planned our weeks out nicely enough in advance that we no longer have to worry about work for the rest of this week.

Hint: I am not one of those people.

Continue reading ‘Regular Programming’