Tuesday, December 30, 2014

McCormick Finals Study Breaks

My mom made a comment some weeks ago:  "It seems as if you're really trying to remember things for the last time on your blog."  While graduating and what comes after are often in my thoughts, I'm having the realization that yes, this will probably be my last Christmas in McCormick.  (can you hear me knocking on wood?  good.  very good).

Every night before finals, the GRTs assemble and put out a bunch of food, and turn on a Disney movie at the front.  Last semester, we started doing fancy themed study breaks, so Ashley and I did fancy pastries from local bakery Tatte with the movie Beauty and the Beast.

Look at the fancy!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Boston Walk: The Boston Public Garden

A gorgeous post-dim sum walk through the Public Garden (right next to Boston Common, they're separated by only a street).

Friday, December 26, 2014

A happy tropical holiday quintet concert!

My junior year of high school, my grandfather was too sick to go on his annual snowbird trip to Hawaii, to stay in Waianae and charm all the locals with his plum jam and kind heart.  So, we brought Hawaii to him that year, for a tropical Christmas.

We had already set our woodwind quintet concert date when we realized, uh...we're kind of playing all tropical music.  In December.  That's a bit odd.  So we embraced it!  Tropical Christmas it is.  For the afterparty, I ordered sushi (sweet potato from genki-ya for the win!), made tiki drinks, and put on Pandora's "Tropical Christmas" station (oh yes, it exists).

It's fun to see how many different ways I can hold events up in the Penthouse.  Midsommar dinner for 50?  Check.  Articles club?  Check.  Salon-style concert?  Check.

Tropical flowers and santa hats.  We are such a swell-looking group!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

Books of the year!

This month's book club pick?  Icebergs, by Rebecca Johns.  We decided good, but not great (and the promise of scandal left us expecting far more!).  See all our picks here!

Articles Club this month was also fascinating - a history of the NY Times Style section.  While the author was a bit verbose for smartypantsnesses sake, it was a great read!

Finally, as far as books go, I am still loving my goodreads account.  I have always been a voracious reader, and having a platform like this to keep track of what books I want to read is fantastic.  Even better, you can see what your friends are reading, what they want to read, and get recommendations from them directly.  You also rate and have the option to write a review for every book you read.  At the end of the year, they send you a link to "The Books You Read in 2014" - it's wonderful!  I am currently at 42, but with the plane flight home and back, I'm pretty sure I'll make it up to 44 this year. 

However.  That said, there are still some downsides:
(also known as: why being an engineer has made certain things in my life very frustrating)

--There isn't a way to say when you've re-read a book and include it in your tally and in the stats they compile

--Speaking of stats, what they have is cool...but they can do so much more!  They should hire a couple of smart millennial data analytics-types to expand this and make it even cooler, a la Okcupid's "Dataclysm"

--They connect into amazon's kindle site and many other book purchasing sites (which is great) - but their local library integration is terrible.  To be fair, they do connect to a local library for me, but it ends up at MIT's Worldcat site, which would mean trying to order a paperback book for pleasure reading through a system that costs MIT a lot of money.  Not going to happen.  What I'd love is for it to link directly into the online library ebook sections.  That would be phenomenal. 

--They show the rating of the book as an average of however people have reviewed it, but the problem is that isn't a prediction of what you will like.  Another way to say this: it isn't Netflix.  They don't have a predictive algorithm that says, "Oh, you'll love this book based on all of your other movie rankings."

On your homepage, they do have a link to a "Recommendations for You" page, but it makes recommendations based on if you added a book to your shelf, not if you've read it and liked it!  Maddening.  I want to know what books to read based on what books I've loved, not on what I've added!

--The pages for individual books show reviews that your friends have written first, followed by reviews from perfect strangers.  I have never found these to be helpful.  I'm glad they're there, because this functionality means that I can read reviews written by my friends, just as they can see what I write. 

But - again with the lack of a predictive algorithm...there's no way to sort the reviews in a way that will help you figure out what you want.  For example, if I want to know if I'd like a book...the best way to do that is to find someone that has rated books that I've read as a whole in a similar way, and put that review first.  Instead, you can only sort by what rating they give, or the time at which the review was written.  Not helpful.  This is why there are several books each year that I find monumentally terrible (this year's winner.  bleeding eyeballs, guys.  bleeding eyeballs.).  They're always the books that I read without a recommendation from a trusted friend.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

McCormick Holiday Tea

Scones, hot tea, holiday tunes, what more could you want on reading day while you study for finals?

The china that Katharine McCormick chose for the dorm.

Macarons (delicious!) and linzer cookies.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

December in Boston

Some snow (but mostly not), a cute little tree, and a new friend that waves to me on the way home from work!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

SWEA Swedish Christmas Festival + a language learning adventure

Another year, another Swedish Yuletide Festival!

Nothing says Swedish like pearl sugar and cinnamon!

I think Britta is excited.  Just a little. 

A Swedish Christmas jazz trio. 

My other adventure right now is Duolingo, an online platform for language learning.  It is admittedly not the best for language immersion before a trip to a country...the first sentence I learned was "A moose drinks water," which is downright useless.  Yet, it's a splendid way to learn the basics and how a language is constructed.  I'm also continuing to practice Spanish and French, and while I'm entirely sure my conversational French is sub-par, my next time in France will make so much more sense because my reading comprehension is at about 50%, which is a good deal more than none.  It's great to have 15 minutes a day to learn something completely unrelated to science - a good brain workout, to be sure. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Baby shower!

Another baby is joining my Boston family!

Zoe has no time for all this excitement, thankyouverymuch.  There are naps to be had.

Such a fun group!  We're so excited to welcome baby Aria soon!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tenure Talk!

Jacquin gave his tenure talk this December - and that required tshirts!

It's a little hard to tell, but the little green guy is a parasite, and there's a hard hat and hammer for the engineering we do of the circular thing, a DNA plasmid.  The back has an aptamer as the "i' in Niles. (an aptamer is a 3D structure made from either DNA or RNA that binds well to something else we're interested in, and makes a mighty fine tool in our engineering toolkit).    

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A friend comes to visit!

Residency interviews mean two things:

Toscanini's, despite very inclement weather (pouring rain.  ugh)

And---a Penthouse picture! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Pie for Breakfast Day!

Also known as: my absolutely favorite holiday!

Apparently 9:15 am on the day after Thanksgiving is the only time you will ever see the entirety of the Infinite Corridor completely deserted. 

10 hours after Thanksgiving ended, the pie was almost gone!


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Thanksgiving at MIT

See that, Minnesota!  Snow on the ground.  For Thanksgiving.  Never mind that it didn't stick around, it was here!

I think "feast your eyes" is the appropriate phrase to use here.

Master carver.

These girls made turkey dumplings from scratch!  They turned out so well, yum!

McCormick Thanksgiving Pies - 2014

(back row)
Apple pie with dutch crumble (adapted from here)
Cranberry, raspberry, and blueberry (from here, really good!)
Double crust apple pie
Pumpkin pie (Smitten Kitchen)

(front row)
Pumpkin pie (Serious Eats)
Salty Honey pie (the surprise hit!)
Strawberry rhubarb (Smitten Kitchen)
Pecan pie (Amma's secret recipe)

Cutting the first slice of Kathy's magnificent chocolate mousse pie.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

McCormick Art Gallery - Fall 2014


While perhaps a bit challenging to adapt to photography, several of my submissions for the art show "Fantasia" were accepted!  

Alien Blossom
With petals rolled tightly and leading to an almost fluorescent blue center, this delightful beauty seemed truly out of this world.

Heaven is a Brass Band
Seen suspended high above a museum's rotunda, the light from above obscures the color of these instruments.  Yet, with their arrangement into a skydiving formation against the white of the ceiling, it's clear that heaven is sounding sweeter all the time.

Wings on Air
Always in motion, yet never moving.

Starflowers and Solder
The natural and the distinctly unnatural coexist in a surreal garden, leggy electronic bits and bobs mixed in among leaves.

The natural world is truly full of wonders: the pull of the moon's gravity creates these tiny fractal-like rivulets in the sand of a beach. 

One of the pieces was made using 3D printing--so cool!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

McCormick, March through December

2014 is almost over, it's hard to believe!

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

October 2014

November 2014

December 2014