JWG (jwg) wrote,

Busy Weekend

This past weekend was a busy one for me because it was my 50th MIT reunion. I had a great time - attending some interesting lectures, going to Commencement, having some meals, and meeting up with people I hadn't seen for 50 years. At MIT I lived in Baker House, the one dorm that had a dining hall which helped develop a pretty good community. I spent a fair amount of time with friends that I'd had from that dorm. In the middle of this reunion, on Saturday I went to the Cambridge River Festival where the GLBT Commission had a table. (This LJ Icon is my Yearbook picture)

On Thursday I had dinner with my freshman roommate and high school colleague, Peter Yamin. We'd seen each other once 4 years ago at our 50th high school reunion. We went to Evoo which is great restaurant and spent a lot of time talking while having a fine meal. Peter is a high-energy Physicist - a Muon researcher, and I learned a little about this but I'll certainly admit that just about everything I ever learned about Physics has disappeared from my brain (and there was a lot there since although not a physics major at MIT I went to Columbia grad school for year and a half as a PhD candidate). We were also supposed to be joined Sid Altman, my graduate school roommate, but he was ill and didn't come to the reunion. Too bad - it would have been nice to catch up - among other things he won a Chemistry Nobel prize.

On Friday after a reunion breakfast I went to the Commencement. 50th reunion graduates become members of the Cardinal and Gray Society and get to wear special red jackets. I'm not enough of a conformist to have gotten one so I wore a blue jacket along with a few other of the 192 of us who were there. We marched into the Great Court and got to sit in a special section. Ray Stata - yeah among other things he gave MIT a building - was the speaker and his speech was quite interesting as he talked about entrepreneurship. 2,236 people got degrees (about 900 undergrad) but we were allowed to leave before all the names were read. After a class lunch (luncheon probably) I went home for a brief nap.

Then I went to the BGALA reception - none of my classmates were there - surprise, surprise. In my biography I was out - and when I perused the book I found no others. I did get the results of a survey of our class that showed that 8 people said they had same sex partners. Among other people, I met the MIT LGBT liaison and will try to link her up with some of my contacts in the Cambridge Police department to help her arrange some GLBT training done for the MIT police.

I then went to a lecture in the Stata Center by a researcher who has been working with blind kids in India to restore their eyesight and dealing various sociological and medical prejudice as part of the project. Apparently there is a theory (which has proven wrong to some extent by actual results) that people who have been blind from birth can't learn properly after their eyesight has been restored because it is too late in the process and thus corrective surgery is often denied.

After that there was the clambake where I discovered the need for an MIT project to invent a better methodology for eating lobsters.

On Saturday morning I went to Technology Day and heard 4 impressive talks. The first was by Susan Hockfield, the president, who seems to be an incredibly smart person who knows about everything - useful since I'm sure that the most important element of her job is to get companies and people to donate huge amounts of money.

There was a brain researcher (Ann Graybiel) who talked about her research entitled: "Our Habitual Lives: How the brain makes and breaks habits". She had a slight speech impediment and was a bit hard to understand but her group seems to have learned an awful lot about how the brain works (or doesn't).

Anantha Chandrakasan gave a talk about next generation energy efficient systems with emphasis on extremely low power consumption medical devices that can get their power from body heat and do useful things such as monitor heart problems on a bandaid sized device.

Finally Donald Sadoway, a chemist talked about innovation in Energy Storage - large scale and colossal sized batteries using molten metal to be used with Solar or Wind power. He envisioned small refrigerator sized ones that could be used in a home. He teaches freshman chemistry and is an exciting lecturer who incorporates music and art into his teachings. At the President's reception that evening I told Susan Hockfield that it made me want to take chemistry again - she said - well with OpenCourseware I could do it and there are even videos for this course.

On Saturday afternoon I went to the City of Cambridge River Festival where the GLBT Commission had a table. I and 3 others staffed it and gave away some literature and ToteBags - for a ToteBag you had to answer a questionnaire and this morning after whipping up a FileMakerPro application I did the data entry on the 119 that we collected.

Then it was off to the President's Reception in her fancy house. I got to talk to her briefly in the receiving line and then I went to tell her how impressed I was by the fact that they had an LGBT Liaison. I didn't go to the banquet that night - it wasn't just my class and I'd had enough of huge events.

On the way home I passed the Central Square Theatree and decided to see The Lady With All the Answers - the one-woman show about Ann Landers. It was fun.

On Sunday morning I went to the class brunch.
Tags: nostalgia, personal, technology

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