Quite a day

I had a busy day today. I got a call from a friend from high school and wound up going to the Boston Aquarium this afternoon. Admission was a steep $16. The exhibits were fantastic, with literally thousands of sea creatures of various sorts, but the admission still sounds pretty high to me. It snowed all day, though it didn’t stick.

This evening was a mock Cambridge formal, coordinated by our English exchange students, complete with pennying. It was delicious.

I got an e-mail today over a discussion list with the following text:

it seems to me that the people who think that a god or gods exist/s are those who have problems coping with death, eternity, or something else that humans don’t know how to deal with.

You can read my response below.
Continue reading

GPS

My navigation system is working. I don’t really have anywhere to drive, but when I do, I know I’ll be able to get there. The system has a very cool “simulation mode” that shows the maps and issues the commands that it would if you wree actually driving the route. It’s awesome.

Also, it turns out that my system comes with a free upgrade to the latest maps, which are presently in the mail. That’s pretty important in Boston, where the street layout is in constant flux. I don’t think I’ll have time to install them until December though. Another downer is that the system pretty much requires a Windows computer to do the map stuff. I’m currently using one of the house’s computers for it, which is a little bit weird.

Beyond Measure

I’ve been pretty busy, too busy to post regularly, and things are about to get a lot busier. Due to a very confusing sequence of events, it is likely that the Chorallaries will be performing at 8 PM, November 5 at Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA. That’s just over a week from now, so next week we will have a rehearsal almost every day. As a result, I am trying to get as much work as possible done this week, so that I can get some sleep next week. I am exceedingly glad that I’m not rowing.

I’m also glad I’m not rowing because the weather has been awful beyond words. Yesterday there was so strong a crosswing that I biked across the entire bridge at an angle, requiring every ounce of focus and concentration to try to keep myself from hitting the railing or lampposts. Whitecaps were rolling through the basin. By the time I reached the other side of the bridge, in under two minutes, the right side of my face was becoming numb to the sideways blast of icy rain.

So I’m glad I’m not rowing.

This is not a test

I have been remiss in my blogging, you may have noticed, due to tests. Monday was a 6.042 test. Tuesday was 6.003, Wednesday was 21M.230, and today was the GRE General Test. I have scores back for 6.042 and two of the GRE’s three sections; ask me if you want to know how I did. I don’t have scores back for the other two, and 21M.230 is the only one I don’t expect to be happy about.

I’ve essentially quit crew, which is really a good thing, since it’s definitely time to get into gear for Grad School Applications!

Oh, and in conclusion, if you know how to solve for

f

in an equation of the form

Af + \Phi\vec{\nabla}f = B

where

f

and

B

are functions of

N

variables,

A

is a height-

N

column vector, and

\Phi

is an

N\times N

matrix, please e-mail me.

Weekend of Parents

This weekend was parents’ weekend, where all (actually, 20%) of the parents of MIT students come to dote on their distant children. My parents came and we had a wonderful weekend, one centered mostly on the parents’ weekend concert: GBIS.

Once upon a time, GBIS stood for Greater Boston Invitational Songfest. At the time it was indeed invitational, with performances by MIT’s two a cappella groups and various groups from surrounding colleges.

At this point, there are six a cappella groups at MIT, so there is no need to invite groups from other schools. Each group sings three songs. I was doing percussion for two of our three, so I didn’t do a great deal of singing, but it was fun nonetheless. I even got my own microphone!

I don’t have any pictures or recordings, but I hope to soon.

After my parents left today I got my new GPS system all set up. I still need one more component: a flash memory card to hold the map data (and voice commands), which I have now ordered. The GPS is also a PalmPilot, and it now transfers information to and from my computer correctly. This means that if I know where I want to go in advance, I can type in the location at my computer instead of entering it using the system’s slow handwriting recognition. I also installed the suction mount on my windshield. All I need now is a destination.

I have three tests this week, so I should get to work or get to sleep.

Yuntif

Yom kippur just ended. It was probably the most intense holiday experience I’ve ever had. I picked up my cousin last night and drove over to my grandparents’ house for dinner. I got lost on the way there but did manage to arrive about 15 minute late. We ate dinner relatively early so that I could get back in time for my Chorallaries rehearsal at 9 PM. Dinner was lovely, and we left in plenty of time, but I got lost twice on the way back, and so just barely managed to arrive at rehearsal on time.

After rehearsal I went to the W20 Athena cluster and worked on my 6.170 PSet until it was done, at 4:20 AM, without eating or drinking. I drove home and got 5 hours of sleep for the second night in a row.

This morning I woke up and biked to campus just in time for services. I went to class and did some work before afternoon services. The afternoon service ended at 7, at which point I rushed directly to the MIT Museum, where the Chorallaries were performing for a paid gig.

I have one funny story from services. This afternoon I was sitting in the front row, right in front of the rabbi (who was also acting as cantor). She was teaching a two-part harmony for one particular prayer in hebrew, and while she was teaching the second part I started singing the first. She could hear me singing the other part and decided to have me lead that song. I ended up standing next to her, leading half the congregation on the lower part while she led the upper harmony. It was very flattering.

It’s for real

The ScionBoost.com thing does not appear to have been a mistake. It took a lot of deliberation (and a little advice from trusted sources), but I just placed my order for a Garmin iQue 3200. It’s a relatively normal, perhaps slightly outdated, PalmPilot, but with a built-in GPS receiver. It comes with software and maps to do in-car navigation with voice commands, as well as a windshield mount and 12V plug adapter.

I can hardly wait for it to come.

I’ve only slept for one hour in the past 24, owing to a 6.170 PSet due today. I’ve been thinking about quitting crew to try to find some more time, but for this weekend I don’t have to think about that. This weekend is the Chorallaries’ fall retreat. Every fall we rent a cabin in Vermont and spend a few days learning new music and bonding as a group. It’s a wonderful time.

Ridiculously awesome

So I went to dinner at my grandparents’ house tonight, and they handed me a card from Scion thanking me for my purchase and inviting me to check out scionboost.com for my free gift. I had also received a Scion keychain; I figured scionboost.com would be more of the same; maybe scion mugs or stickers or something.

No. Scionboost.com has mountain bikes, LCD TV’s, GPS navigators, iPods, TiVos, electric scooters…the list goes on, with values in the range of $2-600. I guess that’s not incomprehensible given the price of the car, but it’s pretty close. What’s the next level below incomprehensible? Flabbergasting?

UPDATE: I’m going to call up their support number, but I suspect that I (i.e. my grandparents) was sent the Boost card in error. scionboost.com says it’s only applicable to 2005 models; it’s basically an attempt to move their 2005 stock as the 2006s arrived. I bought a 2006, so no dice. That doesn’t do a good job of explaining why they sent me the card though.

Lost

I’ve just spent at least half an hour driving in circles in the vicinity of South Station. I had intended to come home over the Tobin Bridge but never saw any signs for it. Instead, I ended up going through a tunnel whose name I don’t know, paying my $3 toll with a $100 bill (long story), and finding myself at the edge of some wharf with no line of sight to the Prudential Center, my usual landmark when lost. I probably could have gotten where I was going without too much trouble in daylight, or on foot, but the combination of one-way streets, closed streets, and construction everywhere meant that even though my sense of direction told me where I needed to go, I had no idea how to get there.

Somehow, I eventually found myself at the East end of Boston Commons, in front of the Loews theater, at which point it was no problem, but that took a lot of loop-de-loops to reach.