19 February 2009

Playing Catch-Up: Part One

I have officially been the worst blogger ever, and I sincerely apologize!!! IAP, the beginning of the spring semester, and extracurriculars have eaten up every spare moment I have, and unfortunately blogging hasn't been too high up on the priority list lately. Now that I have two p-sets due tomorrow (and I haven't started either one), blogging is suddenly the most important thing EVAR. Aaahhh, procrastination...

A lot of things have gone on since I last did a real update (not my "Ah! Look at this cool site so I can feel like I am actually posting something you'll want to read so I don't lose the meager readership I have because that would be lame! And I really don't want to be as lame as I already am!" posts), including the wonderfulness that is IAP, a couple of fantastic concerts, Pi Beta Phi recruitment (yes, a sorority...), and the first couple of weeks of my second semester here at MIT. Because this is a lot to cover, I'm going to split things up a bit. This is the first installment in a series of posts I'll be making over the next few days that cover what's been going on in my life so you know I'm not dying out here in Massachusetts, and that I can still form coherent (or somewhat coherent) sentences as proof that MIT hasn't completely broken me just yet.

So first thing's first: IAP!

IAP was amazing. I feel like I could have done more with my time, but I also feel like I could have relaxed more. In the end, I think relaxing was the better choice, because it made the start of the semester a little easier. So, here's what I did over IAP:

1. Darkroom photography class: I had blogged about this a little earlier, but that was in the middle of the class. It ended up being a very worthwhile class for me to take. I've had a fair amount of experience with darkrooms in the past, but it was a nice refresher, and I learned about printing with colored filters, which I had never done before. I still have a lot of photos I need to print, but this is one of my favorites that turned out even remotely well and is the product of many hours of frustration and many wasted pieces of photo paper:

2. Retaking 18.01: yeah, that didn't work out so well. I didn't do so well on one of the exams, so I ended up failing it again over IAP. As a result I'm retaking 18.01 again this term. I've accepted that I am just completely terrible at learning math, and it just takes me more time than most people. Oh well. Thank goodness MIT has such wonderful grading policies freshman year.

3. Debate Tournament: NorthAms is a debate tournament that happens every year, the title a shortening of "North Americans." Teams from a number of Canadian colleges that participate in CUSID and American colleges that have APDA teams gather either at an American or Canadian school (it switches every year - this year it was in Amherst, MA at Amherst College) for a debate tournament. The rules are this strange hybrid of CUSID and APDA styles, and to be perfectly honest I actually really like these rules. Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling too fantastic for most of the tournament, but I still had a good time, and it was fun to debate one last time before the insanity of the semester prevented me from doing so.

4. New York City trip: waking up at 5:30 AM, walking across campus in 14 degree F weather, sitting on a bus for three hours, and walking around in 12 degree F weather? Totally worth it. A group of friends and I went to New York the weekend of Mystery Hunt (we missed it, yes... lame, I know) and had an amazing time. We ate lunch at Becco, worked off all the calories from all the pasta we ate by walking to the Met through Central Park, saw only a fraction of the Met (favorite exhibits: Impressionism and contemporary photography), had life-changing chai lattes at Mud (and when I say "life-changing" I mean life-changing - I thought I knew what good chai tasted like, but the chai at Mud is so incredibly good it blew everything from back home out of the water), ate dinner at a little dumpling place, got cupcakes, and then caught the bus back home to Boston. It was a long day, but a fantastic one.

5. Andrew Bird Live!: ANDREW BIRD IS A GENIUS. I'm not even exaggerating! He is so incredibly talented, it's ridiculous. Loney Dear (and no, I did not misspell that!), a Swedish group, opened with a great set, and I definitely think they are much better live than they are in their recordings. Bird's set was fantastic; he played mostly songs from Noble Beast, but threw in "Imitosis" off of Armchair Apocrypha and "Tables and Chairs" off of ... And the Mysterious Production of Eggs (one of my favorite albums of all time). The show was the last Friday of IAP at the Orpheum Theater in Boston. Oddly enough, the Orpheum has seating. I'd never seen a show while sitting down before, and it was kind of strange. The show also got over at about 11 or 11:30 or so, which is the earliest any show I've ever been to has ended. Enough of my blabbering, here are pictures! The first one is Loney Dear, and the rest are Andrew Bird.
There was a review article in The Tech, but I can't say it was a good article. Not only is Loney Dear misspelled (just a little pet peeve of mine), the author clearly didn't do her research (the custom built gramophones are just for this tour, as one example...). Overall, I don't think it did the show, or Andrew Bird, any justice. Though he really did take his boots off and perform in pink socks, and there were so many hipsters there it was a bit like Urban Outfitters and American Apparel decided to have a convention with all their models.

So that was my IAP. When I wasn't doing one of the things listed above, I was hanging out with friends watching movies!

Now, for a video from Nerdist for G4, all about MIT's Mystery Hunt:

(I don't know why he keeps calling it "Puzzle Hunt" because that is definitely not what it's called... Oh well... This is the price of a bit more fame for MIT, I suppose?)

And I just can't resist linking to this article about movie projects involving things like vampires, Elton John, and Jane Austen novels. It's just too fabulous.
Plus, you should reward yourself for reading this much of this post. It was really long. Sorry about that! There was just so much to cover...

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