Archive for February, 2009

Princeton interview

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Yesterday I visited Princeton University so their admissions committee could get a better look at me. I would summarize the trip and associated interviews as “A+++++ Would Buy Again Great Shipping!!!”. Princeton’s campus is a glorious place, and I totally walked past Paul Krugman’s office.

Here are a few things that may come up if you find yourself in a similar interview in the future:

  • The integral of x * e^x is (x-1)*e^x. You need to use integration by parts (or “inverse chain rule” as I like to call it).
  • Know how to prove that the derivative of x^2 is 2*x using first principles.
  • Don’t ramble on about the behavioral critique of the Walrasian general equilibrium without really knowing what you’re talking about.
  • You may get bonus points for knowing how to solve a Master Cube.

Also, I got to thank Alan Blinder for holding the door open for me. I think that puts me two steps away from Bill Clinton if you use really tenuous links to determine your Bacon number.

Addendum: Integration by parts is not the “inverse chain rule”, as I previously thought, but instead “inverse product rule”. It appears my math-fu could use some practice.

Review of schedule

Monday, February 16th, 2009

I approached my final undergraduate semester expecting it to be difficult. I designed my course load to be challenging — probably the most challenging to date. I did this for the same reason people attempt to climb Mount Everest: stressing one’s self to the breaking point, every once in a while, is the only way to really get to know what you’re made of.

Another reason for taking more courses than necessary is as an intertemporal commitment. Deciding ahead of time that I will be disciplined in my productivity is cheap. Choosing a course of action that will require I be disciplined in my productivity is the only way to ensure it happens. You may hear people say, “I could be like that high achiever over there, if I were more organized.” Or perhaps, “I could get better grades than him, I just don’t feel like studying.” That’s a cop out, folks.

In preparation for this semester I decided I needed a pretty serious schedule. Now that a few weeks have gone by, I feel comfortable assessing how the schedule is going. First I’ll describe it as planned before the semester started. Then I can analyze what worked and what failed miserably.

I planned on waking up at 7am every day, and going to the gym. Every day. This was ambitious, and in order to ensure I would get enough sleep, I needed a similarly ambitious bed time: 10pm. I would turn off my computer by 9pm every night to facilitate the ridiculously early bed time. Every day I would have a set number of “work” hours, like school was a job. Each day there would be a different subject for me to do — to make sure that my work in that subject was up to date. And Fridays would be a full day to review my whole organizational system.

Most of the elaborate plan was untenable. I never wound up sticking to the one-subject-per-day rule, nor did I ever count the number of “work” hours I would have every day. Luckily, Friday has been a consistent review day, though not always perfectly. For the first week I stuck very closely to the 10pm-7am sleep schedule with gym every day. Later it would be more difficult to be in bed at that reasonable hour: having friends is a terrible way to ensure a solid bed time. Similarly my computer was only off at 9pm for the first two days of school. All in all, only a few tenets stayed with me, and those were subject to habitual inconsistency.

Still, a lot of good came from this schedule. I find that when my homework gets me hectic, I can take solace in getting it done and then getting to bed early and hitting the gym at 7am.

ROFLThing NYC + Tegan & Sara

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Last weekend was the glorious NYC edition of ROFLThing, packed from end to end with epic win. In no particular order, there was Tron Guy, Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere, the eminent Jason Scott,  and the guy who invented Comic Sans. The legendary Tim Hwang worked the scene like a puppet master of the caliber of the John Cusack character from Being John Malkovich. Anonymous was there, and proceeded to heckle the first few speakers — until they were stilled by the threat of forcible expulsion. All the while volunteers were on stand-by to counter possible stage rushing or similar tomfoolery. Imagine “The Battle of Evermore” meets the Internet memescape for a better idea of how things went down.

When our cadre of volunteers was preparing the venue for the awesomeness that would follow, I heard the most curious music come over the sound system. Pre-ROFLThing was graced with the melodies of Tegan and Sara in the song “I Was Married”  — in my opinion, the finest defense of same-sex marriage I have ever known, and a catchy tune to boot. But that wasn’t all! Indeed, the entirety of The Con would play before the ROFLFestivities began. It was a fitting start to a fabulous day.

Last, to anyone unfamiliar with Tegan and Sara, stop what you’re doing right now and go purchase at least one of their albums. You shall not regret it.


Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.