Monday, September 28, 2009

The Writing on the Wall

You might wonder what two geeky mommy bloggers would do if given a few hours on the campus of their alma mater. Or, maybe you wouldn’t, but I have decided to tell you anyway.

We had lunch at Legal Seafood in Kendall Square - a predictable conclusion.

We then wandered over to the new building 20. I should mention that everything at MIT has an affectionate numerical identification. I have heard people, particularly in course 15 (management), complain that even the people at MIT are reduced to numbers. And, the fact that my freshman dorm room number and course 2 were more meaningful in my introducing myself as a freshman than my own name, might lead you to the same unfortunate conclusion.

An MIT conversation might sound like this:

“So, where is the freshman in 501?”

“The one in course 2?”


“She’s in 26-100, but I’m meeting her in lobby 10 at 2 after 8.01.”

“Great. 2.70 isn’t until 3.”

At MIT, people are not reduced to numbers, but elevated by them. Let me offer that the preciseness of numbers offers a common understanding on a campus otherwise so diverse and so unique that, well, understanding may even be beyond the grasp of those in course 16 (that would be rocket science).
I am sure you are terribly impressed.

And so we toured the new building 20, built in the place of the beloved old building 20 (creative, no?) that had seen the birth of radar, and so many other revolutionary technologies. Old building 20 had shaky walls and an excessively warped floor and an incredible history. In its place is a fascinating and unique building built by the very same architect who built the Peter B. Lewis building in Cleveland. This new building is named after someone too, but being an MIT alumn I have already forgotten (proof left to the student), preferring to call it building 20 anyhow.

Building 20 sports a great number of blackboards. Feeling creative, we decided to write our names on the wall. And then, we had a much, much better idea.

Unlike the 8.01 (physics) problem sets of yesteryear, the next step was in fact obvious: 26-100.

And so, we did, we wandered over to our beloved freshman lecture hall, where every MIT student for decades has studied freshman physics, among the core freshman requirements of physics, calculus, and chemistry. We call the room 26-100.

Like so many alumni and students before us, we wrote on the wall.

And, unlike 8.01, it was really, really fun.

Thank you Mommy bytes! I had a great time – and appreciate the ride to the airport.

This is probably not the greatest picture, but had to post it for Jess. If you ever walked along the Charles in the morning, (or ran, as I often did) you know what I mean.


Angela said...

It was awesome to meet you and write on the walls! And you're so timely with your post :).

My freshman room was 222 and I went through course 6, 8 and 4 before settling on course 2 (at least they were all even). And I believe they retired the number for building 20 (MIT can be numerical and nostalgic at the same time), and built the strange building 32 on top of it.

Despite being firmly course 2, I dropped out of 2.70 the first time around and took it again with fervor. I think that contraption is sitting in my attic somewhere... Did you have Woodie? Alas, professors are not numbers but sometimes first names!!

I loved that you wore your brass rat, I hardly ever take mine out. Have we completely confused your audience? I love that we can speak in code!

OHmommy said...

You guys "met" through the blog, right? Congrats on meeting your first blogger in real life. You forgot to add the obligatory photo of the both of you. LOL.

I went to a Catholic college in the midwest filled with Irish kids. My freshmen dorm was called "The Beercan" and our most famous alum was Chris Farley.

Jessica said...

Thank you for the pic! Sounds like you had a wonderful trip down memory lane with the added bonus of new fun times!

Barry said...

Here's a view from my freshman dorm room and another of my sophomore dorm apartment.

Angela said...

Ah yes, the obligatory photo of both of us is still on my camera... I have soccer practice, bath night and other distractions, but I will try to get it up on Flickr tonight. :)

MIT Mommy said...

Angela - I love your comment about them being all even. That was the first thing I noticed.

No, I didn't actually have Woodie as my prof. I took it during Prof. West's tenure of the class. The ONLY regret about my minoring in Japanese was the fact that it messed up my 2.70 lab time. It was still an awesome experience though. I was covered by Japanese television - and did very well until my trigger broke.

I started wearing my rat again a little while ago. I've actually met alum by wearing it. I noticed that your ring is similar to the other one I wear (not my wedding ring).

MIT Mommy said...

OHmommy - Ah, yes, the obligatory photo. I have it. Guess we didn't follow the rules =).

Barry - Did you actually find us from our writing on the wall? I was wondering if anyone would look us up!

MIT Mommy said...

Barry - Now I remember. We met at a luncheon in Cleveland in the Spring. Thanks for stopping by.

Barry said...

Three weeks ago actually. I know time goes faster as we get older, but not that fast and neither of us is that old yet.
I liked the MIT pics in your blog, so I thought I would drop links to a couple of older ones I had been working on lately. A concise way of telling you a little bit more about myself actually - you can see when I was there and what dorms I lived in while I was there. Visual mnemonics, kilowords, and all that.

Working Glass Gal said...

What a great set of posts, and I love the chalkboard! I was just there as well (for a whirlwind 22 hours, which left little time for nostalgia). I managed to convince my coworker that Tosci's was what we should do with our 2 hours of downtime, so I got my fix of ginger snap molasses ice cream. It was fun, and I missed you terribly. It makes me oddly happy to know you were reliving your (and our) memories there at about the same time.

MIT Mommy said...

Glass Gal - Missed you a lot. I wouldn't have dared gone into the dorm.

Barry - Kilowords. Ha!

Magpie said...

I've been downloading some of those physics lectures from iTunes U - so that lecture hall is stunningly familiar.