Sunday, July 31, 2005


In my cleaning frenzy of last week, I decided to move a display of stuffed moose. I moved them a herd at a time. When I got to the bottom, there sat a bug, Atlanta-style huge. It was about two inches long, about three quarters of an inch wide, like a huge cockroach but with a pair of pincers above his head.

After screaming, I leaned toward it. It looked like a plastic bug I used to use to scare others. But why would I have put it under the moose? I was scared to touch it, having tried several times. Eventually, Scully came along and flipped it on its back, and the number tatooed on its stomach area made me realize it was definitely plastic.

I was still scared to touch it. I eventually almost touched it with one finger, then decided to carry it with a paper towel instead (just in case).

Being the brainiac I am, I put it in a drawer, figuring I could use it in another prank someday. However, I get the feeling I'll be doing a similar blog entry to this one in a year or two when I reopen that drawer....

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Wisdom from the Mom

I've got a lot to write about today, but this one was too priceless to pass up:

I created a blog for my mom so she could have an account and post comments on this blog. When I told her she now had her very own blog she said, "So now I can complain about things?"

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Finally Focused!

Every so often (okay, very rarely), I will get myself into a cleaning frenzy. For me it's a frenzy, for most it would probably be called "just cleaning up." I was commenting to Dan that the extremely helpful ADHD book I bought last year had said that when you (person with ADHD/ADD) is focused on a task such as cleaning, continue to do that not stop to rest even a second, or the focus will drift.

Dan's comment: "So, did you ever finish that ADHD book?"

Of course I didn't. We got to wondering if the last line of the book says something like, "If you got this far, you're cured!"

Parking at MIT

I arrived on campus at 7:58 today, and drove to the West Annex lot where I usually park. There were no spots available. This happens sometimes, so I simply drove on. I drove down the street, looking for street spots, nothing. On to Mem Drive...nothing. Back to West Annex...nothing. Mem Drive...nothing. Street...nothing. Around and around and around. By now it's 8:20, and I had decided it was time to sneak into another lot. Unfortunately, this was the day that they actually had someone monitoring it. ARGH. So I parked at a meter, which will expire at 10:25, before 10:30 end of my class.

So do I leave midclass to feed the meter? Leave class early? Just risk it?

I pay $567 a year to park here. I should not have to put up with this crap.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Dance skills fading fast....

I just tried to take a break from studying in order to get my blood pumping (damn you, paper helicopters! =D). I used to do this by dancing. When I was with CNN/SI, I used to work a lot of hours from home and would use this technique to get rid of excess energy, send oxygen to my brain, and get some endorphins in me.

It was a series of stretches, layouts, and pirouettes in a warm-up routine by my favorite jazz teacher, Leon von Brown. (By the way, if you need a break, watch the video on his site...the ones from class 1 and class 2. He cracks me up.) ANYWAY, I could not remember the layout series! I know it sounds silly, but it's a very relaxing way to stretch.

I am going to have to make a special trip to Atlanta to take his class again at the Atlanta Ballet School. I miss it.

Yeah, this entry makes no sense. I'm sorry. But I couldn't dance away my energy, so I had to blog it out!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Systems Engineering professors

I really enjoy Professor Frey's respect for his students and willingness to adapt to their requests. He continues to be flexible in allowing for the growing number of software students in SDM. During class today I was thinking about the metaphor between the professors and the subject they teach.

Professor Frey resembles what I believe to be the essence of systems engineering: his basic requirements are to teach the class, help us learn, etc. However, his implementation has changed as dictated by the class; he has willingly added in a software sway, even though it is not his area of expertise. He is working hard to work in the "late requirements" presented by his changing classes. His design methodology is more of a spiral, incorporating additional functionality as he continues on. As a side note, I am enjoying his classes more and more as he continues to tailor them.

Professor Clausing is more regimented systems engineering. He has his preordained requirements and sticks by them. He also refers to lessons learned from the past more. He is using older design methodologies, which is one thing he recommends in his various papers.

I may write more on this subject later, but need to get back to the homework now.

Time to stop whining about the weather

Headline from the Globe: "Heat wave causes more misery"

Today is 93 degrees. Hot, yes. But there's only 26% humidity! That's friggin' gorgeous.

Seriously! "It's too hot." Or two months ago, "It's too cold." Dudes...y'all sound like the 85-year-old woman who was my landlady in the North End...she never knew what to complain about first. Maybe if everybody stopped complaining, there'd be less hot air floating around.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Paper helicopter project

Before starting my paper helicopter project, I decided to research a few sites online to get a view of the world from eyes other than Box's and Lieu's. All of the sites I found were targeted toward children! I actually think that it's pretty darn cool to be able to learn from playing a children's game.

Of course, this got me thinking. The 12-year-old version of myself would have LOVED this helicopter assignment. I would have been chopping those papers up and just having a grand old time. I wish that I could send my project back to my former self in a time machine. Younger me would do a much better job. While younger me is doing that, I'll sit down and enjoy a writing assigment to cover for younger me's lost time working on the copter.

I think that while I am back there I will convince younger me to take at least one engineering course in college. Get a head start on the career that would await her...

Oh, goodness. I just realized it's summer and this is the time of day I would have been out riding my bike with Eric Yaffe, one of my best friends from childhood. Oh well, no time travel for me today.

Beach day on Sunday

After an adventurous night out with Sam and my Warren Tavern softball teammates, I headed to the beach with Andrew. We made a last-minute decision to head for Singing Beach in Manchester. My GPS guided us right there.

It was gorgeous! I was very impressed. Nice, clean sand, gorgeous water, beautiful rock formations a few hundred yards out. That plus they had Ritchie's Slush! I got one scoop raspberry and one scoop watermelon. So yummy. I even dove into the water at some point. It's like hopping into a vat of astringent.

After the beach, I asked a local where to eat lunch, so Andrew and I went to The Landing for some seafood. The bread and fried scallops were excellent. My scrod dish was good, but I am developing a distaste for the cod and haddock that usually comprise scrod.

We then headed home, somehow ending up making a turn into Charlestown directly behind my mom and dad! Andrew honked the horn, and after some confusion, my parents waved. Andrew dropped me off, and I went for a quick walk with my parents. They took the water shuttle over to the aquarium, then walked back by way of Dino's in the North End. They brought me a salad for dinner. Thanks, mom and dad! They then went home, and I went back to doing homework. It was very nice to see them, if only for a short time.

I was exhausted from the day (oh, and being out the previous night), and got into bed around 8pm, fast asleep by 9.

Today I finally went to see a doctor about my stomach. I still have constant nausea and a bit of vomiting (sorry to be icky). Perhaps the worst thing about the nausea is that every time I think or say the word "nausea," I have to think or say "Austin Power's fashah" in Goldmember's voice. Anyway, the doctor thinks that my stomach problems are probably still a result of my mourning, but they ran a bunch of tests anyway.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Weird tourist lady

I went out sailing on the Charles again. So much fun!! Pretty uneventful except for my stopping to help a mother and son who had capsized. They finally righted the boat, but it was filled with water, so I threw them my bailer, then sailed off, my mitzvah of the day complete.

At the end of my sail, I was unrigging my boat when a woman on the walking path on Memorial Drive yelled down, "Would you take a passenger?" I wanted to yell back, "What do I look like, lady? Green cab?" but held my tongue, instead telling her that I had just come in, I wasn't setting out.

These boats are small boats. I can't imagine inviting myself on one with someone I didn't know. People are weird.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Sloanie hits Newbury Street

I had an appointment in town today which finished around 1pm. As I was walking back to the train, I called Corny and Hillary who are visiting from Atlanta to make plans for sometime over their stay. It turns out they were four blocks from where I was, shopping on Newbury Street.

Needless to say, I joined them (people tend to leave my office on Friday by 1:30). We had a great time, stopping in everywhere and chatting. And, of course, the crown jewel : ice cream at JP Licks, which I have been craving like a pregnant woman for weeks now. I had a chocolate chip cookie yogurt and oatmeal cookie yogurt in a waffle cone. YUM. It was sunny and hot today...just gorgeous. I loved seeing Corny and Hillary. Their one-year anniversary is this weekend. Yay!!! Hopefully I will get to see them again before they go.

The bad part about the shopping was that I had to come home and finish up work late. D'oh! I have been making good progress on my project, so the work was actually fairly enjoyable. Of course, it has me in on a Friday night AGAIN. I guess it's been good, though, because I finished up work around 9pm, then did some homework (still working on it actually).

Just got a call from the Charlestown Crew, out terrorizing Boston. Woohoo! Not joining them tonight, but definitely jealous. =)

Ilana: The Ultimate Sloanie

I have encountered a little mystery. I decided to take a break from doing homework recently, but couldn't move from my chair as Scully was sleeping comfortably in my lap. So I surfed a bit, then googled my name. (Yes, I'm a dork.) I came across the entry you see to the right.

However, I then clicked through to that page, and the link to my blog had disappeared! Isn't that weird? I wonder if all the babbling about Warren Tavern or Atlanta fell below the Sloan standard =D It's nothing important enough to email Al Essa about (especially since I respect the man and feel pretty honored to have been on his web site at all), but I found the whole thing relatively amusing.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Back to the Tavern(s)

After a difficult day yesterday, my parents drove me back to Charlestown. We had ice cream at Cold Stone for dinner. I later met up with Brie, Andrew, and Bob at Tavern on the Water. The night was beautiful: there was a full moon, the clouds reflected the light, the city was stunning, the temperature was perfect. Oh yeah, and the booze was flowing freely =)

We stayed for a while, later joined by Dave (I know, shocker. Charlestown crew at the Tavern...) The night was pretty uneventful until I wandered back from the edge of the pier to find Andrew chatting with a group of girls. Ever the good wingman, I said hello and turned to meet the girls. One of them was Lori, who--as you might remember--I haven't seen since Figawi 2004. I didn't even recognize her. I said a couple of words, then wandered off.

Andrew, Brie, and I soon left for the Warren Tavern, leaving behind Dave who was talking to two really cool girls: Gretchen and Tricia. (Dave, whatever happened with that??) When we got there, Justin was singing per usual, so Brie and I groupied it up. Justin was actually just mentioned in the Improper Bostonian as one of the people who makes Wednesday nights at the Tavern awesome. YAY!!! I ran into Jill, a local girl originally from Texas. It was so good to see so many locals.

Midnight came, and the bar closed. Everybody left except the three of us, Justin, Tavern staff Danny, Shannon, Pat, and Johnny. We were eventually joined by Tavern on the Water security Rocko and Linda. It was just like old times (except Greg wasn't there, being off on vacation with his family). We all sat around, talking, making fun of one another, discussing the Sox, and telling bad jokes. We toasted repeatedly to Lynn and Phil, and talked about people close to us, the afterlife, and other supernatural theories.

We stayed until about 1:30 or 2, then wandered to Store 24 (of course), then home. It was great to be back in Charlestown doin' my old thing =) I needed a night like that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Sys Eng lectures good

I continue to find the sys eng lectures significantly better than the readings, and am impressed by Professor Frey's continuous attempts the tailor the content to the software folks. On Thursday, we are going to look at software testing, very cool. Today's lecture was definitely interesting, if only because it contained a baseball analogy.

Phew....don't need to brief MITRE, just the architecture council.

Monday, July 18, 2005

One slice bread, one tablespoon peanut butter, cocoa pebbles

That's all I've had to eat since Friday morning that has stayed down. Actually, I just had two butter cookies that are doing okay. How come when you can't eat right you feel so bad? I definitely have enough pudge stored up to feed my bod for a few days. I don't get it. Why wouldn't the body metabolize fat to fight feelings of dizziness? (Not a rehtorical question, I really am wondering)

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Rant: Worst reading quiz ever

Okay, warning: I am grumpy as hell. I haven't been able to keep food down for over 50 hours now, so am definitely not chipper, compounded by my mourning.

Anyway, this is the worst, dumbest reading quiz ever. It's so frustrating!!! When I think about systems engineering, I think of a set of accepted tenets which clear the way for effective analysis, design, and implementation of a range of systems. The papers we have read for this class have repeatedly fallen well outside this definition. I have tried to google for many phrases contained in these papers and come up with NOTHING.

For example, this week's paper is on isoperformance approach, specifically performance invariant sets. Go try googling "performance invariant set." C'mon, get outta here and google it. As usual, nothing but academic papers, primarily MIT ones. If this is such an accepted tool, why am I not seeing pages such as Dell or Slashdot or other engineering stuff pop up?

Grr...I try to remain optimistic about this class, but it is taking me a lot to concentrate on anything right now, and this article and related quiz are certainly not worth my effort or time.

Friday, July 15, 2005

I miss you already, Lyn

I just found out that a very dear friend of the family, Lyn Duggan, died of a heart attack. Lyn was like a young grandmother to me, and her husband Phil is like a young grandfather. Perhaps more importantly, she was also like a mother or older sister to my mother and her sister, whose own mother died 27 years ago.

Lyn and Phil (pronounced "LynAndPhil," they were so inseparable) never had kids and traveled everywhere around the world. They'd go from safari to cruise to Paris. They were so unassuming, so fun-loving and so much in love. Poor Phil...she truly was half of him.

One of my favorite Lyn and Phil moments was at Eve's engagement party. For those of you that don't know, my sister is four years younger than me and waited as long as she could to get married, but eventually had to plan her wedding because mine ain't happening any time soon. Of course, people always worry how the older sister will take it, and I was most nervous about how people would react to that worry (if that makes any sense). Lyn and Phil give me a pair of beautiful Tiffany earrings as soon as they saw me at the party, telling me they got them for me because they knew how pretty they would look on me. It was so kind, and such a loving gesture.

The last time I saw Lyn was on Christmas. Lyn and Phil brought their three Boston terriers to the gathering at my Aunt Helen's house. Eve and I were doing the "Dance Dance Nation" game on cousin Lewis's Nintendo, and Eve inadvertantly planted a foot in one of the dogs' faces while trying to execute a back kick. He went yipping to Lyn, who understood Eve had meant no harm, but merely possessed the family grace that you have seen coming from me.

I guess I should write how they became like family. My grandparents died young. I had a great Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bernard who lived in New York City. Lyn and Phil lived across the hall from them. My aunt and uncle passed on about ten years ago, but Lyn and Phil stayed close to us. They had no children, and we had lost a lot of our family very young. It was a perfect match.

Lyn was an amazing person. God, I'm going to miss her. I can't even imagine what Phil is going through. My mother said he is too broken up to even talk about it. I may go to New York this weekend if I will be able to help. My family will talk tonight to decide.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Out with the kids

After sailing yesterday, I went home, did some work, then headed into town to meet up with Brie, Amy, and Andrew at The Place. They had been there for a few hours before I got there, and were quite chummy with the bartender. He asked what I wanted, so I asked him what his favorite drink to make was, and went with that.

It was a fruity, sweet martini. At the top, he had drawn a big red heart in some kind of syrup. It lasted 2/3 of the martini! Impressive. And it was on the house. YAY

I hadn't seen Brie for a while. She looks great (as always), and always cracks me up. Good to be out with Andrew as always, though I left before Dave arrived.

Now I'm in systems engineering. The lecture is actually pretty interesting...object-oriented design and web services.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

My new favorite pastime

Is sailing on the Charles! I just love it. I went again today to blow off steam from the accounting exam and pressure at work. =) It is such a wonderful feeling to sail...I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Join me in my boycott of Sears!

Those of you that knew me last year around this time may remember a particularly disgruntled Ilana. I had just bought a top-of-the-line washer and dryer from Sears (over $2000 for the set) that looked wonderful sitting in my living room. Ya see, I had given the specs to the sales guy who saw the huge commission and sold me the set anyway. Sigh...

So Sears came out EIGHT TIMES. They also had to come out to bring me a stackable and take my gorgeous washer and dryer away after a MONTH. Grrrrr....

So anyway. Bygones. Haven't bought a damn thing at Sears since except for a printer I got with all the gift certificates I made them give me for my trouble.

And now the credit company has started up. I bought the W/D on a Sears card so I could have a year of no payments. EVERY SINGLE MONTH I have been assessed late fees and have had to call and have them strike them from the record.

So today I called and asked to be compensated for my time. I was transferred to a manager (David G.), who had as much intelligence in his skull as I do in the pinky nail of my right toe. In a rather combative manner, David G. told me that they don't compensate for wasted time. I asked him why, if they charged late fees, should we not be able to similarly use time and be compensated for it. Brainiac got mad and said, "So what's wrong with late fees?" I answered, "Other than the fact I should not be charged any? Nothing. You're missing the point."

I could go on, but will conclude with this: Apparently David G. is the highest we get in the Sears credit customer service hierarchy. He told me he was the end of the line (of course smartass here has to say, "So you don't report to anyone?" "Yes, ma'am, but you can't talk to them.") So now I need to write a letter.

I thought Sears was awful before, but now with the latest dealings with their credit folk, they are even lower in my book. TO quote RainMan, "KMart sucks!"

Monday, July 11, 2005

What is "deceptively easy?"

That would be the accounting exam questions according to our TA. I actually guffawed in class when she used that phrase. HAHAHA

Hurricane Dennis

I saw on the weather channel that Dennis had washed away much of Destin's beach. It basically dragged away 5.5 feet worth of sand (in height). I admit a few tears fell when I saw the footage.

I left Kellie and Allen (my friends who live there) a message on Kellie's cell on Saturday, but haven't heard back from them. I am guessing they evacuated to Atlanta and hope that Dennis left their home unscathed.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Avoiding studying by studying

Accounting bored me so much I did some homework on the Systems engineering WIKI. We need some hardware guys in there, dudes.


Now I'm actually studying. And I'm bored. Please reply to this post with jokes. If you don't, I'm going to start telling mine. I'm sure you've heard most of them, and they're BAAAAD.


So despite the fact I've been sailing since before I kissed a boy (wow! I was like 17!... kidding, really 8 or so), MIT requires that newcomers to MIT sailing take a lesson. So today, my hours from 9:30-2:30 were spent re-learning how to sail and out on the water.

It was actually a lot of fun. The instructors were very quick and funny. For instance, when they were talking about avoiding other watercraft, one of them mentioned the crew boats. He pointed out that the rowers were very intent on what they were doing and would not see you. "And this person here," he said, pointing to the coxswain, "Is very small, so they won't listen to him either if he tells them to slow down." Maybe you had to be there, but it was funny.

Anyway, as the one person with any experience in the class, I got to demonstrate some stuff, which was cool. Then sailed around on the water for about 1.5 hours with some random guy I was paired with. All in all, a good time.

Now it's time to study. For REAL this time.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

You know what would make accounting so much more cool?

Aside from "anything." =D It would be so cool if each company we study or read about in our book would give us free samples of stuff. For instance, my current page has Zales and Circuit City, and I could really go for some diamonds and a DVD recorder right about now.

My Favorite Episode of "South Park"

Last night my TiVo picked up the South Park episode, "Osama Bin Laden has Farty Pants." I clearly remember this episode being the first time I felt okay to laugh after 9/11. I was very surprised today when I checked the original air date: 11/7/2001, almost two months from 9/11. I actually still have the original episode on my TiVo...that and "61*" have been there for almost four years!

The episode made it okay to acknowledge that things were, as the boys would put it, "Pretty f*cked up." The episode opens with them standing at the bus stop, all wearing gas masks, then boarding the bus after Officer Barbrady checks their packs.

Some other highlights:
Stan's mother lies on the couch, doing nothing but watching CNN for eight weeks. When Stan comments that he has received a big, brown package from Afgahnistan, she doesn't react for several minutes.

Towelie (an admittedly annoying character) appears and the kids groan. Towelie responds, "So you don't want Towelie around?" Kids:"NO!" Towelie says, "So am I to understand there's been a Towelie-ban?"

Afghanistan has its own version of Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny, wearing arabic clothing rather than winter clothes. The South Park kids meet their Afghanistan counterparts, and try to figure out why people hate Americans. Afghans: "A third of the world hates Americans." South Park: "Why do they hate us?" Afghans: "Because you don't realize a third of the world hates you."

The riskiest part of the episode involved the interaction between Cartman and Osama Bin Laden. Cartman: "OH, dude! It's called deoderant. It's not expensive." Bin Laden later speaks on the phone saying, "A flippity flappity floop. Jihad Jihad Jihad," which starts off a priceless series of scenes in which Cartman plays Bugs Bunny to Bin Laden's Elmber Fudd, inlcuding the typical scene in which Cartman/Bugs dresses like an Arabian pricness and lures Bin laden into wooing a camel. Arabian princess Cartman holds up a series of cartoon signs, starting with the usual screw and ball (screw ball) and jack and donkey (jackass). This quickly progresses to poo and a head (sh*thead) and a rooster and a lollipop (you figure it out). Excellent. Osama is finally put in an Uncle Sam outfit and shot by his own troops.

The episode ends with the boys standing up a small American flag and Stan commenting, "America is our home. It's our team. And if you don't like your team, you should get the hell out of the stadium. Go America!"

It's funny that South Park has become a very intelligent commentator on America. They have continued to be right on the money, including an episode in which they catch Saddam only a few days after he was really caught.

(And yes, I am doing an excellent job of procrastinating from both studying and the gym. I got mad skilz.)

Friday, July 08, 2005

Whine Alert: This term is more on the icky side

Dude, this term is not quite as much fun as last term. I am feeling very overwhelmed not just by the amount of work at school, but also from MITRE. I just looked at the homework assignments for systems engineering and accounting. YUCK. That plus I need to stay in all weekend to study for accounting =( I'm also bummed because I had to miss what sounded like a very cool seminar this morning on networking and finding jobs, having to meet with my boss instead.

I would really love to do the normal summer thing and just go party every night, but I suddenly have to act like a grown-up. To counter such feelings, I had two hot dogs and an ice cream sundae for dinner.

As an aside, I am looking forward to Matti's comment on this, which is sure to be about lean studying =)

Cheat Sheets

We are allowed to bring a "Cheat Sheet" to our accounting exam on Wednesday. While I appreciate the pseudo-open-bookedness of the gesture, cheat sheets drive me nuts. I would want an exam to mimic real life as much as possible. It is much more plausible that we will be near a textbook or the internet when faced with an accounting problem than an 8.5x11 piece of paper with formulas written on both sides.

Yes, I understand that writing the cheat sheet is in itself a helpful tool. However, the decision to do this or not should be up to the student. Likewise, if a student wants to spend a portion of a two-hour exam thumbing through a textbook, so be it. I just don't like things that make so little sense.

Hectic week almost over

Yay! This week has been fairly good, but a little too busy. Last night, we went to the Summer Shack with SDM, then a smaller group of us headed out. Dave, Brit, Kevin, Maja, Christian, Spiros, Abi, Matt L, Sam, and potential SDM06 Shelley ventured into Cambridge and enjoyed a few pints at John Harvards. We didn't stay out too late, but it was great to be out with folks again...seems like forever since the group has done something social.

I am very much looking forward to a relaxing weekend. Of course, knowing that I have an accounting exam on Wednesday will limit relaxation an induce much more studying, but it will be nice not to travel or entertain.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Business Trip!

We are currently nearing the end of our business trip. (See SDM Website for details...I'm too lazy to blog)

Today we had a good talk from Right Management Consulting about career direction. Definitely sometime I had to hear.

Okay, now we are going to Summer Shack for dinner. YAY

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Friday, July 01, 2005

From my 6'6", Causcasian friend Oge

> You calling yourself supremely logical is like me calling myself
> short and black.