University Memo Series -- What I did this summer.
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 100 00:10:55 -0800
Subject: University Memo Series -- What I did this summer.
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Forwarded-by: Keith Sullivan <KSullivan@worldnet.att.net>
WHAT I DID THIS SUMMER
-- by Samuel Jay Keyser, Associate Provost, MIT
What do fresh men and women do during the summer to prepare themselves for
their first year at MIT? Everybody knows the answer to that. Anything
from catching up on all the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes they
missed in high school to making faces at iguanas in the Galapagos. But
what do senior administrators like Associate Provosts do? That is a
different question. When the editors of VooDoo were able to work up
sufficient courage to ask that question, naturally they came to me. They
knew that, if the price were right, I would write for anyone. They also
knew my weakness for frozen Milky Way bars. So here it is: what I did
during my summer vacation.
This summer I rented a house with a fence around it. The reason for the
fence was that the house was located smack in the middle of a pasture and
on that pasture was a herd of nineteen Holsteins (for those of you from
big cities, those are the black and white cows that look like the plastic
cream pitchers you buy in airport gift shops) and one brown and white cow
of indeterminate origin that looked as if she had wandered into the wrong
line at one of those twelve movie houses where each cinema can comfortably
seat anywhere between fifteen people and twelve cows. The cows outside my
fence were given to strolling in a huge circle around the pasture at a
sedate pace which brought them to the fence once every twenty four hours.
They were as dependable as the sunrise.
Now if you already are at MIT and do not know that I play trombone, then
you have probably spent most of your MIT life in the basement of Building
26 along with that handful of other students who still think computer
programs are written on IBM punch cards. Be that as it may, you know it
now and can come on up to the first floor.
Somewhere around the middle of the first week of my stay in the
aforementioned rental property, it occurred to me that the cows on their
daily circuit might like to hear me play the trombone. Why not? Wouldn't
you? And so it was that one morning when the cows were passing by, I got
out my horn and played several tunes just for them, tunes like Blue Moo,
Moo over Miami, The Moo and I, In a Sentimental Moo, You and the Night and
the Moosic -- all the old cow standards. The effect on the cows was
electrifying. There were about fifteen cows at the fence and five on higher
ground a few hundreds yards away. As soon as I started playing, the five
cows on higher ground came racing down the dirt road to the fence separating
me from them. Those that were nearby stopped dead in their tracks and
turned their ears toward me like large silky antennae. Several came close
to the fence and made eye contact for several bars. I am not at all ashamed
to admit that I blinked first. Never in my life have I had a more attentive
audience. In a word, these cows were mooved. I couldn't help notice a
certain nervous activity in the vicinity of their tails which gave them
the appearance of so many clocks on a nursery wall and which, in all
modesty, I took to be a standing ovation.
I have just described one of the most wonderful moosical events of my life.
Never have I felt such rapport with an audience. I learned a few days
later that the farmer who owns the herd calls them to milking with a horn.
I take that bit of intelligence to be completely irrelevant.
Have a good year and think of me when you pour milk on your moosli in the
Voo Doo <http://www.mit.edu:8001/activities/voodoo/is741/keyser.html>
© 2000 Peter Langston