Busy Busy Beavers

20 Mar 15

Since around two weeks ago, when I started experimenting with tofu and going purposefully part-time vegan, I’ve been making spicy tofu. I’ve been simmering it in chili sauce, throwing it in some spicy miso soup, and stir-frying it with a pan full of small red peppers, Capsicum annuum, either chopped or whole and occasionally exploding from the heat built up beneath the skins.

I’ve been mixing in gochujang, a kind of Korean spicy fermented soybean paste found in giant tubs at the local H-mart. I’ve been abusing the Sriracha, applying it liberally as one applies ketchup to french fries before scarfing them down three at a time. I’ve been dumping in the chili powder, teaspoonfuls at a time, fruitlessly attempting to reenact that numbing, Sichuan peppercorn feel that leaves mouths tingling and eyes watering and bellies fuzzy and warm.

And lest you start thinking that MIT is all food and fun and students learning to become gluttons, I’ve been learning about artificial neural networks, op-amps, and case markings in binary syntactic trees. I’ve been wiring robot heads and building a circuit for scale readings. I’ve been writing up psets, interviewing a native Arabic speaker, and creating and discarding lesson plans for both HSSP and Junction, two programs being run by the student-run Educational Studies Program (ESP).

With spring break looming in the next week or so, we’ve all been pretty busy.

The buildup began around two weeks ago, when in light of recent tragedies MIT professors were encouraged to give students some extra time on their work. For myself, this was sorely welcome — though not directly affected by the recent occurrences I was still beginning to feel quite distressed by the apparent cheapness of life currently being put on display, and some time to regroup my senses without worrying about the looming psets was probably going to be more effective than yet another sad series of emails informing students of the most recent tragedy and reminding us that various resources exist if we are feeling overwhelmed.

So I took the several days extensions on my work, and I took the time to think about where I wanted to be with my life. And I thought about my feelings, and I thought about others’ feelings, and I thought about the kind of person I wanted to be for these people, either supportive or destructive, and I tried to concentrate my feelings down so I could pinpoint the parts where I was upset. And I looked ahead at next week, at the new stuff that was going to be due in the near future, and I punted it hard into a dark closet for a few days so that I wouldn’t have to think about the work while trying to take a break from the work.

And I looked back at my calendar that Friday evening, on the appropriately dated Friday the 13th, and I realized that I was hilariously behind.

So I began scrambling to finish the work.

Saturday was catch-up day, for reading lecture notes on all the classes I had been skipping to discover myself. Fortunately they were detailed and easy to understand — what few missing bits in my understanding were quickly and haphazardly patched up with supplemental reading from Wikipedia and Piazza questions, and what other misunderstandings were quickly laid to rest when I started attempting the homework problems. Sunday was much of the same thing, with me putting the final details on 6.036 and powering through the 2.678 pset on what little information on RC circuits could be gleaned from the internet and 2.678 textbook. I spent much of Monday poking around Hayden library for Baker’s Atoms of Language and studying for the Japanese interview test I would have later that afternoon. That evening I finished most of the linguistics pset and gazed wistfully out the window, looking forward to the upcoming break.

Tuesday afternoon, I completed my linguistics pset and began studying for the 6.036 midterm.

Wednesday afternoon, I went to the review session for 6.036 and confirmed that I had at least heard all the relevant terms.

Thursday morning, I went into the midterm and did about as well as I probably expected, minus a part that I figured out only after having left the testing area. I then returned to Random Hall to work on the Japanese take-home exam, to be turned in the next day, and attempted to go to bed reasonably but did not fall asleep until around 2am.

Friday morning, I slipped my take-home exam into the collection envelope outside Aikawa-sensei’s office before heading to 24.900 recitation, where I took notes and nodded in all the right places. As the rest of my classes were coincidentally canceled for the day, however, I then went back to Hayden library for some quiet time with this post, right before realizing that I still had a five-minute teaching sample and list of proposals to prepare for the ESP interview this afternoon.

I promptly began to panic for several minutes, before being talked out of just dropping it by Anthony L. ’15.

I then began writing a list of topics I was interested in, and reminding myself why I had wanted to do this in the first place.

At 6:30pm I went to my interview.

Around 7:30pm, I arrived back in Random Hall.

I am now mildly tired, and may consider turning in for the day since I have desk tomorrow at 8am.

But the week hasn’t been all hectic.

I’ve been poking around the Random Hall website, updating bits and pieces here and there. I’ve been writing a silly script to translate our rush chairs’ Campus Preview Weekend (CPW) schedule directly into HTML code. And I’ve been going around and taking photos of people doing things, and recruiting more people to write for the blog.

And I’ve added things to the sidebar, like the countdown to when CPW officially opens for check-in, so there’s now something concrete for everyone to look forward to. :)