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Imminent CollapseTen Tech Traditions

By Bill Andrews

As many of you on campus are probably aware, the fabled Mystery Hunt took place last weekend. My congratulations to the winning team, which, I guess, solved the most puzzles, or whatever. I’m not really into all that kinda thing, y’see. The whole idea of devoting an entire weekend to solving puzzles, with nothing to show for it but the chance to write next year’s puzzles doesn’t really fit into my lazy lifestyle. But maybe it should.

I mean, it’s an MIT tradition, right? Mystery Hunt, it’s right up there with Bad Taste, or the AXO lip sync contest. But then, I’ve never really ‘done’ those events either. Perhaps I might as well try these things once, since, the way things are going, who knows if there’ll be any traditions left in a few years? But how is one to tell the good traditions from the bad?

That’s why I came up with this list of the top 10 MIT traditions, in order of when I thought of them. I’ll include what I know or have heard about the event, if it’s worth going to, and whatever else I think of. So without further ado:

Mystery Hunt

Like I said, a bunch of teams sit around in rooms on campus and try to solve puzzles. While the Zelda player in me likes the idea, the lazy bum in me rebels; plus I’m hardly ever in town for IAP (I am from Florida, after all). I’ve heard it can be fun, though, especially if you don’t take it all hard core serious and just enjoy yourself. Basically, it’s up to you how much fun you have.

Bad Taste

A show put on by the Chorallaries making fun of all kinds of taboo stuff (religions, races, other a cappella groups…). Again, I’ve never gone, so I can’t really judge, but I’ve heard it isn’t that great. Sorry guys, maybe I’ve heard wrong, or it could be that waiting in line for days raises your expectations unfairly. But hey, I’ve always kinda sorta wanted to go, and this might just be the year, assuming I don’t have anything better to do.

Pumpkin Drop

Every Halloween or so, the good folks at EC drop pumpkins off the roof of the Green Building. Maybe it doesn’t sound so great, but it is quite entertaining, and very easy to get into (just show up). I recommend everyone see it at least once, and bring a date; nothing says romance like a pumpkin going “splaaat.”

Tangerine/Orange Tours

Speaking of EC, these tours are the reasons half my friends are here, so if you’ve never gone on one you’re really missing out. Loosely put, you start out with a bunch of youngsters (traditionally they’ve been for prefrosh and frosh, though I went on them for years) somewhere and head for Baker House. Usually you never get there, but, as with life, the journey is more important than the destination. And unlike life, your safety is assured.

Spelunker’s Tours

Like hard-core, more secretive orange tours. Alas, I’ve never taken part, but I understand that there’s all kinds of interesting stops, and all the best hacking stories are saved for spelunkers. Unfortunately, they only occur once a year (like the other tours), shortly after orientation. You have to know the right people to know when and where to meet. In case you’re wondering, I don’t fall in that category.

Sodium Drop

Similar in spirit and physics to the pumpkin drop, only it’s dropping a big block of sodium into the Charles River. In case you can’t remember your 5.11X, sodium and water react violently, and just like a FOX special it’s very entertaining. The only problem is it gets very crowded on the tiny Longfellow bridge, so if you wanna see the good stuff you’ll have to show up pretty early. The boom, however, can be heard for miles.

Steer Roast

Dude. If I gotta explain Steer Roast, all hope is lost.

Spring Weekend

You know that time in April when things seem a little extra festive? That’s spring weekend. The highlight is usually some “big name” musical group performing, though for the last bunch of years the groups kinda sucked. Back in the day we’d get groups like Reel Big Fish, They Might Be Giants, Sugar Ray, Spin Doctors. The rest of the week’s events are hazy for me, so they can’t really be that traditional. Right now I can’t recommend whether you should go, because I don’t know who’s playing.

Charm School

Do we still do charm school? According to MIT Google we do, and it’s February 3 this year. I totally recommend going. Really, it’s quite fun. In the past some newspapers stop by and do a soft news story on us (imagine, some MIT nerds trying to become charming, it’s sooo cute!). I got my first doctorate from MIT in charm, so it has a special place in my heart.


Sure it’s kind of a lame tradition to include, but I wanted one more for an even ten. It seems that recently there’s a tradition of boring/no-name commencement speakers, so that’s that. I’ve never gone, but I hope to this year. I hear it’s fun, but better to remember than to do; kinda like MIT.

So there you have it. Disclaimer, because I know how sensitive people get: these are all my opinions, and could very well be wrong. If I slighted your favorite tradition, relax: it’s still IAP, after all.