Buenos Aires I

Traveling is great, spending time with friends is even better. Spending time in a gorgeous city in a foreign country with your friends and their friends is even better still, but to do so while watching their toddler toddle around is just too much good for me to comprehend. Finally, I think about how I had the opportunity to share this experience with Brittney and I know that I am blessed beyond belief.

La Casa Rosada

This is not Rodrigo’s House. La Casa Rosada is the Argentinian White House. It shares a plaza with historical sculptures, a few fountains, and elaborate buildings.

This past weekend, Brittney and I took Friday and Monday off of work to visit Rodrigo, Isa, and Manu in their home in Buenos Aires. Rodrigo was actually in Chile an hour west of Santiago that Thursday. He agreed to present at the meeting on the condition that he would be given a seat on the same flight as Brittney and me going back to Buenos Aires that Friday morning. Now, I know for a fact that I got the last two available seats on that flight a month ago, so somebody important wanted Rodrigo at the meeting.

When we arrived at Rodrigo’s house, he let us know that the only rule in the house was to always feel at home. Although the house was already packed up for their move, it still contained food, furniture, and family so we had no trouble with Rodrigo’s rule.

Anthony Upside Down

There are playgrounds and exercise parks throughout Tigre and Buenos Aires! This may not be the intended use, though…

The first day we walked around Tigre the suburb of Buenos Aires in which Rodrigo and Isa grew up and in which they still live. It is a beautiful place built up around a river with boathouses from the late 1800s. The two hubs of activity that we found were the market on the wharf with cafés, shops, and an amusement park and the area around the train station with docks for water taxis and ramps for launching row boats. (To read more about rowing in Tigre check out Brittney’s blog). As Rodrigo drove us through Tigre he also pointed out his old neighborhood, the route he took to bike to school when he was a kid, the home of Isa’s parents, whom they visit every other Sunday, and the apartment in which Isa lived when they first started dating.

Lola and Anthony

The wharf in Tigre also included Lola, Clifford’s cousin. Why a dog and not a tiger in Tigre? We’ll never know. (All photos and captions courtesy of mi polola, Brittney Johnson)
Coming soon…the Argentina-Belgium soccer match, dinner with the incoming SPURS-Humphrey Fellows, an asado at Rodrigo’s house, and a stroll through downtown Buenos Aires!

Farewell and Good Fare

It is with much thanksgiving and a full belly that after four years I now physically depart from the iHouse kitchen. The iHouse kitchen is a magical place. In two days or 1 CPW event the kitchen can go from immaculate to obviously a place for cooking. And with the help of a “kitchen god” and a faithful worker, the kitchen can be made white as snow in approximately 20 minutes. However, it is the end of the year, which means that the kitchen is getting a full cleaning and it is beautiful.

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The iHouse Song (with lyrics)

Remember this (YouTube link)

Here is The iHouse Song in its entirety! We recorded it during one of our ID Nights! Lyrics are included below!


The iHouse Song

Music by Suan Tuang; Lyrics by Jonathan Abbott

Live, learn, and love life, give back and do right
Take time to touch lives, listen let them guide
Do ID projects, travel to new heights
Use wits and logic – in school and real life

iHouse you’re home, a heart for ID
We live, learn, and love – as one family
We dream in our hearts, and reach for the stars
We take MIT to the world 

Sidewalk of streetlights, or bike, bus, or hitchhike
Make most of dining, and cook as you feel like
Pset with people who share the same smiles
Find friends forever, we’re worth the whole mile 

iHouse you’re home, a heart for ID
We live, learn, and love – as one family
We dream in our hearts, and reach for the stars
We take MIT to the world 



Leadership, Chapstick, and the Navy part one

Hello World! (I’ve wanted to do that for so long!)

The blogging bandwagon has been picking up more peeps over this year’s IAP, and I’m finally making the plunge to be one of its constituents with my first iHouse blogpost! So far over this month y’all been able to read about mario kart and juggling, ice skating, and hockey, and while we’re all definitely a fun crowd to hang out with, we also focus on lots of important topics as a community. (Don’t worry, I’ll write about swing dancing, singing, and super-movie watching some other time)

You heard right, folks- while it seems that we could all just get through life with our dashing good looks and wonderful wit, we also make an effort to come down from our delusion and engage on more impactful and serious matters. One of my favorite areas to explore is the subject of leadership and teams. Exploring how people within a team interact with each other, determining how they can help each other thrive or create conflict between themselves, discovering how a leader can inspire and empower his team to be the best they can be, and learning how to share a vision that can captivate the hearts of people are some of the things I am most passionate about :) How does this tie in with the enigmatic title, you ask? Well, this past weekend I had the opportunity to travel over to the Naval Academy in Maryland for a four-day conference all about one aspect of leadership, and I can’t wait to share it with you all :D

But before I begin, I should take a short paragraph to introduce myself- my name is Mario Martinez, and I’m from Texas! I’m a third year mechanical engineering student here at the ‘tute, with a concentration in engineering management and leadership. I’m heavily involved with Cru, a Christian ministry on campus, and some of my favorite things are food, friends, and fun (and trolling, but I promise to not troll too much in writing!). Here’s a picture of me with some friends while we were eating food

20140130-114425.jpg Can you try to guess which one’s me? :D

Over the course of this post, I’ll be writing a little about my experiences traveling to the naval academy, communicating my thoughts on the learning I did there, and sharing some of the introspective thinking I was able to carry out while over there. I won’t go through everything, cause four days is a lot to pack in a blog, and I don’t want to punish your attention span so much in your first experience with my writing, so I’ll spread out everything of the conference over a few posts. So let’s start!


Oh gosh, this was an experience in itself. I traveled away this past Sunday afternoon, and let me tell you, I learned some valuable lessons that morning.

First lesson: if you’ve been growing out a beard for four-five months, don’t start shaving an hour before you have to go. That, and have your bag packed before this too. In short, just make sure you have your stuff prepared well in advance of stuff yo.

Second lesson: if you’re running late to your gate, and you’re also really hungry, make a quick check to see if there’s no line so you can grab food- remember: only if there’s no line. I tried to ask for some time to get food, but was sent into the plane instead. So remember, you only have one chance for food, so if you’re hungry, just ignore the first lesson I just gave. (Just kidding, if you’re running late, please don’t get food before your gate- it’s better to be hungry and eating peanuts and pretzels than being semi-full and stuck at an airport).

Third lesson: People will save your life. All the time. Everywhere. I tried to start wearing my brass rat (MIT class ring) on the way, but when I put it through security, I completely forgot about it! I just picked stuff up and took off like a bullet to the gate (you can see the theme of preparation taking form here). Anywho, once aboard the plane, I start settling in when all of a sudden I hear:

has anybody lost a ring on the plane?

At this point, my blood chilled when I realized I wasn’t wearing or holding my ring- I didn’t even know if I’d picked up my ring at security in the first place, so this is probably someone else’s ring anyway. I still decided to flail and get the flight attendant’s attention, and lo and behold, after describing my ring, I was quickly reunited with my brass rat! :D I was later told that another person on the plane had found it and turned it in. Needless to say, I was super relieved, but this was an awesome way to see that sometime’s people can have your back in the most unlikely of circumstances.

O-kay, back to the conference itself- once on the plane, I met with a fellow classmate called Greg (who knows almost everything there is to know about everything you could be curious about), and shortly after arrival, we got to meet all the other conference attenders! I was completely astonished- there were so many Midshipmen (kinda like the Navy’s version of a cadet in military school) and they were all decked out in their full uniform to meet us. Needless to say, it was a very impressive sight, but not nearly as impressive as seeing an even greater number of people in uniform at the reception for us all that night. It had people in many varied types of uniforms, as the conference was for many ROTC and military academies around the U.S as well. There were lots of civilians involved in leadership programs at their school too, but we still felt like fish out water with all the impressive people around us. I quickly found out that the people were not as scary or intimidating as they sometimes seem, and was able to start building relationships with them. Needless to say, after that long day, I was beat, and as soon as we were released, I excused myself and headed to bed to crash- our day was going to start at 6 am!

The next day, our conference was finally starting for reals, and on our way from the hotel to the lecture hall we would be in, I got to take in some impressive sights of the academy, here, let me show you some



They herded us to the hall, and after a few minutes of chatting with peeps around us, the introducer stepped on stage and immediate silence dropped on the hall. It was intense yo.

The conference theme they had chosen for the week was Followership: The Evolution of a Leader, and would deal with numerous issues in which a follower has to support a leader by going against him or her, finding how to bring moral courage into an organization and team of people, and how a leader must continually be a follower and a follower must also be a leader. It was pretty neat.

I’m gonna take this chance to leave you on a cliffhanger (literary device to inspire readers to come back for more!). I didn’t get to go into it that much this time, but I definitely want to tell you about the stuff I learned over there at this place, and I hope you want to hear more about it :) I’m happy your attention span lasted this long too! And what about the chapstick, you ask? You’ll just have to stick around to find out ;D

Signing off, until next time!

- mario!


I just wanted to put a spotlight on Elliot. Elliot is a super studious iHouser and when he’s not in lab doing some crazy awesome cutting edge experiment he’s out in the rink with the ice hockey team.

MIT Ice Hockey

I went to one his hockey games today, and it’s completely crazy! I know some of you (Mohammed and Dou Dou) are just learning to skate, so you guys should totally come and get inspired! I’m sure Elliot could teach you some amazing maneuvers.

The players just zig-zag and sprint, all while completely focused on the game. Elliot is Tech’s number 7, which is the coolest number ever.

So definitely come and watch a game, and cheer on Elliot and the team!

Hockey time!

Hockey time!

Ain't getting past me

Ain’t getting past me

I'll D that!

I’ll D that!

That's my puck!

That’s my puck!



The MIT guys on their skates.

The MIT guys on their skates.

Puck ready

Puck ready

Lucky #7

Lucky #7

Lucky #7

Go Elliot!!! =)

Who's got position now?

Who’s got position now?

Ice Skating 101!

Hello my friends! In case you haven’t noticed, most of our lovely blogs have been written by the same admirably determined and selflessly responsible blogger, and you might just wonder who that is. Well, certainly NOT me. In fact, upon friendly reminders aka pressing request aka half-threats at multiple occasions from our admirable and respectable single blogger, I decided to race for the glory of the runner-up in the iHouse blogging challenge! But on a serious note, sometimes it is easy for us to forget the little fragments of happiness, those times we have spent with friends and family and forget about the big race that we’re all in.  Maybe blogging is good way to collect those little droplets of happiness, so that when we look back, we can be once anchored again.


Instead of skillfully written and in-depth blogs like the ones you’ve seen before, my blogs are gonna be “all over the place” — pictures, memos, comments, jokes, recipes,… you name them. The fact is, I write quite spontaneously. But I will try my best to collect some of the fun experiences here at iHouse (or other stuff). But seriously. iHouse is FUN. We are ambitious and hard-working and caring and all that, but we also know how to enjoy ourselves. Or at least some of us do.

So you might ask, what do we do over IAP at school? Well, at least I can tell you what I did– externship, shopping, doing cooking experiments, singing, songwriting, watching movies, preparing for my ID projects, applying for grants, running my online start-up company, working in admissions, blah blah blah, and of course, taking some classes, the fun ones i mean, i.e. ballroom dancing and swing dancing. Oh and I forgot to mention, doing activities like ice skating with Momo, Krupa and Chris were quite an experience! For the past two Saturdays, we have been going to Johnson ice rink to have free ice skating lessons (why not?), and it’s been a lot of fun! I think the pictures can speak for themselves (sorry Momo I forgot to take pictures the first time you were there).


Well, this is the sort of thing you can do over IAP at school, taking fun classes like “ice skating 101″. In Guangzhou, the southern-coast city in China where I grew up, we have ONE ice rink in the whole city in a gigantic mall, and the hourly rate of merely being in the ice rink is 10 bucks/hr, set aside the skates rental and lessons. And here —  guess what? 1 dollar for renting the skates, and that’s it! Free rink, free lessons, how much better can it be? During school year the skates rental is 5 dollars, but in general, wouldn’t it be such a waste to ignore the lovely facility we have here at such a bargaining price?

I realize that there are many world-class facilities, the athletic center for instance, in this school at our disposal, of which many are free of charge (or you can think of them as part of our tuition money). Therefore, not taking advantage of them would be a shame. Especially when we are going all over the world and trying to help other people take advantage of their local resources to better their lives, shouldn’t we do the same to ourselves? Some may choose IAP to discover the world. This year, I chose to stay and discover myself and what’s around me. Growing up  in a tropical city and now stumbling with iHouse friends on the ice rink, I see a new world of possibilities right here in 77 Mass Ave and 471 Memorial Drive, Cambridge. Maybe someday, instead of ice skating 101, I will finally be able to do what I was supposed to do today as the activity title suggested: ice dancing.


Mario Kart and Joggling

Most of you know that I generally don’t like video games like Mario Kart. But what you don’t know is that I actually much appreciate the game design behind Mario Kart. The problem is that Mario Kart is virtual. I prefer to do Mario Kart real life style with joggling, which if you haven’t guessed = jogging + juggling.

Let’s break down the awesomeness of Mario Kart game design and how it relates to simple running.

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