Friday, April 27, 2007


Marilee Jones was the dean of admissions at MIT until an anonymous tip last week led MIT officials to investigate her credentials. They sadly discovered that she did not earn a Bachelors and a Masters from Rensselaer. In fact, she only attended there for one year, in 1974. In 1979, she added the degrees to her resume when she applied for a junior role in the admissions department at MIT.

I feel badly about her downfall because she did eventually run the admissions department, when she was promoted to dean in 1997. From all reports she helped redefine the admissions process at MIT. She clearly had the talent. She spoke at conferences. She served on boards. But she didn't have the credentials. MIT had no choice but to ask her to resign. Institutions tend to frown on anything that diminishes their integrity.

Bizarrely enough, in my own industry, not one single person has asked for proof about my own credentials. Eventually, I suppose, the history of your work speaks for itself. I think the most anyone would do is shrug their shoulders if I announced that I did not graduate from college. Yet, I've never considered removing my degree from my own resume. I guess it pads it nicely.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Reporter: "Can you describe the scene at Norris Hall?"
Chief Wendell Flinchum: "It's one of the worst things I've ever seen in my entire life."
Reporter: "Can you describe it?"
Chief Flinchum: "Not at this time."

Friday, April 13, 2007

Those Old Houses

Living in New England, I often find myself driving by very old houses. Not fixer-uppers, or "pre-war." I'm talking historic houses. While reading an article by Peter Costa in a newspaper supplement on Patriots' Day, I learned that historic houses, circa 1600-1700s, are often built with wood that is much stronger than today's wood, because the trees that were cut for those old houses have been growing for hundreds of years. "[The wood] was much more stable than the quickly grown forest stock we have today," said Daniel Lacroix, president of the Westford Historical Society. Back then, there was plenty of that wood too. I've never thought about those old trees, and how they're still around in some of these old houses. Fascinating.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Oh, the Places You'll Go

Jenn and I have lately been tuning into the Travel Channel during the weekends, and one of the shows they're promoting is 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. That's a lot of places! The show is inspired by Patricia Schultz's book with the same title.

Watching this made me ponder the list of places that I want to see before I kick the bucket. Here's some of them:

  • London - My wife and I did spend an hour or so in London Heathrow Airport (LHR), on the way to Paris. But that doesn't count. I want to drive on the left, and I want to watch a Premiership soccer match.

  • Tokyo - I was in Japan once as a 10-year old, on the way to Philippines. Even then, I remember that country's "style." After seeing Lost in Translation, it leaped back into my list. My goal: eat some terrific sushi, and maybe watch a baseball game.

  • The Grand Canyon - "Just a hole in the ground," is how some people might put it, but I want to see it for myself. No hiking, river rafting, or camping for me. Just taking pictures from the rim is enough.

  • Dubai - Tiger Woods won a golf tournament there, and the articles about the place intrigued me. What sealed the deal was seeing pictures of Tiger hitting golf balls off Burj Al-Arab's helicopter pad. I don't know if I'll be able to hit golf balls from there, but staying at this unique looking hotel will do.

  • Singapore - Whenever I see pictures of this intricate-looking city, I always think about visiting. The name itself is evocative of mystery and adventure. I am drawn to big cities, and I'd love to add Singapore that the list of big cities I have visited.

  • Cuttyhunk - This is a small Massachusetts island near Marthas Vineyard. During lunch a few years ago I was by myself, without reading material. I grabbed a tourist's brochure of Massachusetts, sat down, and began reading about all the spots in Greater Boston that I had already visited. In the middle of this brochure was a map, and I examined it. I have been to Marthas Vineyard, but not Nantucket. I have been to Springfield, but not the Quabbin Reservoir. Then I spotted this small island, with a quite intriguing name. Cuttyhunk. I dreamt about sailing from Boston to this little island. What must be on that little island? I pondered it. A year or so later, Sam Allis of the Boston Globe wrote a piece "Island Ideals" (August 15, 2004). So there it was: the island revealed. I still want to go.