Fridays are meant to be days off reserved for recruiting activities and academic catch-up, but when you combine these two tasks what you get is very much NOT a day off. Outlook usually has three or four items on my Monday thru Thursday daily calendar, but Friday often approaches ten - today is eight.
Today is also my first day as a member of the M-Trek Core Team. I'm one of the Operations crew, not to be mistaken with Co-Leader, Marketing, or Finance. It's the position I said I was most interested in and I'm glad to get it; there's leadership potential here but also the opportunity to roll up my sleeves. M-Trek is a great organization with a goal that I identify with, a means that I encourage participation in, and a resume bullet that is hard to replicate.
Apart from being busy, the last day of September, the day before the UM/MSU game, and a gorgeous fall Friday, it is Jenelle's birthday today. The White Stripes seem appropriate:
Fall is here, hear the yell / back to school, ring the bell
brand new shoes, walking blues / climb the fence, books and pens
I can tell that we're going to be friends
Walk with me, Suzy Lee / through the park and by the tree
we will rest upon the ground / and look at all the bugs we found
then safely walk to school / without a sound
Well here we are, no one else / we walked to school all by ourselves
there's dirt on our uniforms / from chasing all the ants and worms
we clean up and now its time to learn
Numbers, letters, learn to spell / nouns, and books, and show and tell
at playtime we will throw the ball / back to class, through the hall
teacher marks our height / against the wall
And we don't notice any time pass / we don't notice anything
we sit side by side in every class / teacher thinks that I sound funny
but she likes the way you sing
Tonight I'll dream while I'm in bed / when silly thoughts go thru my head
about the bugs and alphabet / and when I wake tommorow I'll bet
that you and I will walk together again
cause I can tell that we're going to be friends.
There've been a few developments to report. First, it may come as a surprise to some but I got my first business cards yesterday. Like a proud parent I'm putting their likeness online...I figure that might be a handy way to do email signatures, too.
Next, S3 went off yesterday and took a commanding lead in Penny Wars. With all of the matching and rematching I think the total for the contest is someplace around $10,000 with one final day remaining.
There's an option in blogger to allow each post to start with a catchy headline. Clearly, BrownCow doesn't utilize this feature, but from time to time I think I'll use that idea to convey things more concisely.
Michigan Solar Car in 3rd at World Solar Challenge!
United Technologies Corp. Gives Away Optical Mice at Recruiting Event
Econ Test Returned: Results Mixed, say Statistics
Studying Looms, Despite Busy Social Weekend
Asian Colleagues Don't Whisper
Students from Indian Subcontinent Host 'Desi' Party for Section-mates
There's been a total lack of visuals around here lately, so it is time for a look into the life of a Ross MBA. This looks like the OMS502 Statistics core course...8 AM on a Tuesday or Thursday:
Penny Wars are on this week; people are into it in a big way, but I'm baffled about why $20 put into each of five jars gets counted negatively. If the objective is to raise money, shouldn't we focus on the objective? I suppose that defense builds enthusiasm, but I think 20s build the bottom line.
I got an email yesterday on the subject "memories at the junkyard." At first, not something that grabs the proverbial heart strings, but I opened and read of the end of an era. The chapter in my family's history that included our white 1993 Chevrolet Lumina APV came to a close yesterday.
The 'wan' (sic) as we called it in reference to Katja's German accent joined us in the spring of 1994, in time for a trip to NMU for a play at Forrest Roberts theater, dinner at Sweetwater with G&G Irish, and a few moments in the parking lot before the play to listen to the last bit of Pat Donahue's "Midnight Man," a tape that got played and played over the months ahead. That summer we took the van, with a shelf in the back that Dad had made, on a fairly epic camping trip through the West. We travelled 46 days out of the van, washing and vacuuming at odd intervals along the way. The A/C was on almost all summer, especially in the bottom of Hell's Canyon, where we stopped for a bathroom break in 120 F heat. That day we also dried apricots on the dashboard, one of the better uses of the Lumina's famed "dustbuster" shape.
When I was in sports it was usually the van that appeared to pick me up from practice, loaded with teaching stuff for this workshop or that conference, Mom, and sometimes a sibling, friend, or musical instrument. We took the van on spring breaks, too. When I was a junior at RRHS we went to Jackson Hole, with Robin and I sitting in the 'way back' seats and the middle row removed...the Limona, I suppose. It was the van that made the trip to Webb, once with ski rack on top (and then inside when it wouldn't fit into a NYC parking garage, much to the amusement of a wide-eyed attendant), for Spring Break of senior year for my interview and acceptance and then again five months later packed with bike and computer and clothes.
The van would return to Webb just one year later after the move to England - it seemed to make sense that I should drive it rather than selling it. So, for three crazy college years it was the Lumicruiser...ferrying Webbies to and from the airport, travelling north to ski in Vermont, twice going to Florida for internships, and riding around Long Island packed with ice-cream seeking friends who wrote dirty signs to hold up in the windows and then later be found by my guests at Parents' Weekend. Fittingly, the van took me back to Michigan after Webb, too, for my gap summer. Robin inherited the van when she was able to have a car at MSU. She used it to get around town, to get to the UP and back on occasion, and to haul painting equipment for a summer job.
Dad took the van to Universal yesterday with his bike in the back, dropped it off, and pedaled home. Two hundred and eighteen thousand miles were on the odometer and that was just about all the transmission could handle.
There are lots of things to be down in the mouth about, but not football. This week has not been to kind to the Wolverines, but I'm still of the opinion that we have a band and the nation's largest, most classic stadium, and winged helmets and "The Victors." Yeah, we've been ranked every week since I was a pup at Webb struggling through Chem quizzes...so that's a pretty good run. Let's be optimistic; let's enjoy the spectacle; let's start a new streak.
Friday's quiz went fine, although many a Section III soul was heard complaining about it. I think my colleagues and classmates have forgotten the labors and losses of college. Quizzes are supposed to be hard, meant to challenge you, designed to bring you from one concept to the next. Plus, HELLO, the curve! Bad just might equal good.
Over the weekend I interviewed for a position on the M-Trek Core Team. It went well and I'm hopeful. Decisions should be announced by midweek and I'm looking forward to being part of an organization of that stature and impact.
We also went to the Museum of Art for the show "pop!" It closed on Sunday so Saturday was a perfect day to take it in. Saturday night we went to Caroline's house for the game. It was a pleasant way to watch the first TV game of the year - result notwithstanding. Then on Sunday it was time to paint Jenelle's apartment. The bedroom and kitchen had been done already, but the walls of the living and dining rooms and small hallway needed a coat, so we cranked that out. It's funny how much things change with colors. The place seemed smaller but more relaxed when the tan and maroon were up and drying.
Today was my first corporate do - venerable industrial mainstay General Electric. They make lots of transportation stuff, so I went and collected info. It turns out, though, that the recruitment things are not the most effective way to get a foot in the door. I'm going to have to work on contacts outside of the realm of OCD to make things happen.
I'm studying again. I wish I weren't but I am; econ midterms don't take themselves so I'm spending a day taking it. Seven hours of revising, 90 minutes of testing, and no more than one hour at the "Beeeeeeer! Where have you been all my life?" single-round happy hour afterwards. Then it is off to have a weekend. Anyway, it seems pretty hard - the engineer in me ought to get the nuances of the different situations better and I would like to select the right attack more often - and I think if my man Doug were here I know what he would say: "What's on the examlet?"
WSJ/Harris Interactive rankings came out this week. People were pretty nonplussed about sliding a solitary spot to #2. 'Two ain't bad' is the thinking around here. (To be honest, "Second position reflects a high standard of action based learning while still allowing the school to measurably leverage its strengths and improve our product" is the thinking around here.) Mostly I agree with MBA-blogging legend Tad Holbie...nobody cares unless you slide or gain more than three spots, leave the Top 10, or enter the rankings for the first time.
Great news! There was an awesome letter to the editor in the Daily Press today, so a good post must be forthcoming.
Poor LF of Escanaba wrote to express her concern re: The Price of Gas. Catchy opening line to her letter: "What kind of game are those Arabs playing?" (Oooh I am hooked at this point!) Slamming follow-up statement: "Bush can straighten out those crooks and stop the gas guzzling prices. It's gone completely out of control. Do they think we are a bunch of illiterates to let them get away with the price of gas?" (This is getting awesome...the gas is guzzling prices!?!) If prices are high, shouldn't the ranting be about the gas-sipping prices? She later asks to know why gas has gone from $2.89 to $3.19 in a single day; she must be quite impressed by "those Arabs" to think that they could affect gas by $0.30 in 12 hours. This comes across as pure fear later, when she says "I believe the Arabs want to wipe us out and are doing a good job at it too." (Yep. She's right. Not about the price of gas, though.) I think that with all of the attention paid to this issue we'd know better about these most basic underpinnings of our nation's economy. It's ironic that she accused "those Arabs" of thinking we were a bunch of illiterates - that point was well proven in subsequent paragraphs.
Last week I kinda slammed Ford for bringing cars on campus to drum up enthusiasm. What I should have done was slam Ford for just not having that exciting of a lineup. The reason I say this is that the General is on campus today, with a Corvette, H3, Solstice, 9-3 Convertible, and CTS-V. These are exciting products, there's no way around it, and I think that it can't help but get people a little pumped...when I was sitting in the driver's seat of a Corvette with my finger on the button there was a twinge.
Ian, Scott, Scott's girlfriend Rachel, and I went for a little Huron River Drive bike ride this morning. We did about 18mph over 20.76 miles, which was a pleasant amount. Cool Michigan air makes for easy, not-too-sweaty rides. There was mist rising off the river and sun on the dewy grass, too, so I would chalk it up as a great way to spend a morning.
Last thing, honest. Got my quiz back. Huh. Made some mistakes, no doubt. Could have been worse. If grades really aren't important, I'm set. I don't think I got a "fail" but it's still not very pleasant.
MBA days are strange days. Our classes are divided into long blocks, held in rooms with no windows, at all times of day, and this causes time to become 100% abstract. Honestly, it takes a long look at the clock to figure out when it is. My uncle Mark told us one time about waking up in a hotel room and needing to check the phonebook to figure out where he was...same principle here. Apparently this is good practice.
The resources are outstanding, though. At some point last year I aborted an installation of Windows XP Pro Service Pack 2, and recently with my increased use of wireless internet I decided I'd like SP2 on my trusty computer. It seemed easy enough, but I couldn't figure it out in 10 minutes so I just dropped it off at the Laptop Support deck and came back in 150 minutes. BAM! Done. So far it seems worth the update, too.
It was Quiz Day at Ross for the MBA1s. Last night at 11:59 the Stats quiz was due - no surprises, open book, engineering style. This morning was the knock-down drag-out accounting quiz. Hunh. I mean, on the one hand, I was dern close to having a balanced balance sheet. On the other hand, $22k is a heap of cash any way you slice it and I missed it somewhere. It is just plain frustrating because this is a class I can handle; the hard skill skillset is where I've been most of my career, so it feels like points left on the field not to park the quiz. Oh well, life moves on. Hopefully I beat 3 people and didn't get a "low pass."
posted at 8:09 PM - comments
Oh holy wow! I, like, totally forgot to blog about something totally awesome! Once again, one of the highlights of the football game was the halftime show. This week it was "Monty Python & the Holy Grail" for 8 minutes of halftime fun. From the giant foot (played by the band) crushing the dancers (played by the dancers) until Patsy 'galloping' along behind Drum Major Dennis Lee during the downfield "Victors," it was creative, funny, and extremely well done. The Black Knight's scratches and flesh wounds were emphasized by waving red banners, the dead were piled into the back of a field cart, and Sir Sparty answered these questions at the Bridge of Death: (sorry, MSU types, but this is funny.)
Bridgekeeper: No man shall cross the Bridge of Death until you answer me these questions three...unless you've won a Big Ten Grail in the past 15 years. Sir Badger, Sir Hobbitt, go ahead! (Just Sir Sparty remained at this point.) Whaaaat is your name?
Sir Sparty: Sir Sparty, the fair!
Bridgekeeper: Whaaat is your quest?
Sir Sparty: To win the Big Ten Grail!
Bridgekeeper: How do you blow a 17-point lead with six minutes to go?
Sir Sparty: Well, I, uh, I don't know that! (Sparty perishes.) posted at 1:58 PM - comments
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Another week, two more "it was bound to happen" football moments. First, it was actually mildly unpleasant on a football Saturday. This was my eighth Michigan game and the first for which it was not at least partly sunny and 10 degrees above seasonal average temps. Then, Michigan ran it up against Eastern. I mean they totally, totally dominated the Washtenaw County Championship game.
In the evening on Saturday we went to Royal Oak to go out with Jenelle's new coworkers. They're a fun group; it seems strange that they all work at a new high school and that the half-dozen that made it to Royal Oak Brewery and then to Rumors Sports Bar & Grille were 80% of the total UHS staff.
I've come to the realization that b-schools have Friday off because Sunday isn't. My Ross day started at 2:00 with an Auto Industry Club kick-off/introduction meeting, then gave way to a BE502 group meeting, which transitioned to the Operational Management kick-off/introduction meeting, from whence I headed home and cranked out my OMS501 (statistics) quiz.
I don't think that I rant supreme on this joint too often, but today I'm steamed...about wireless phone etiquette.
As I've stated before, Ross is big time. We are paying in the hundreds per hour to have our heads filled and so far I'm guessing that I've paid around $100 to hear mobile phones ring. Javesh has had his phone go off three times in the past two days - his ringer is loud, his phone buried in his bag, and his apparent remorse nowhere to be seen. Last night I had occasion to be at a very solemn event and obnoxious ringers interrupted three times in the span of five minutes. Anti-cell signal blockers are illegal but I am coming out strongly in favor of their legalization. Churches have started using them, and I don't see why chapels, schools, and entertainment venues shouldn't be allowed to maintain their atmosphere. If your use of a phone is costing me, I want to be able to take the offensive. We've seen smoking relegated to stoops and smoky bars - why aren't wireless phones right behind?
At GBR there was talk of drinking from a firehose, a cliche that I've repeated. The thing about it is that you don't realize that you've been drinking from said hose. I looked up in BE502 Applications of Microeconomics today and realized that I have learned, without a doubt, more in school this semester than I can realize...but it doesn't hurt. The pleasantness about it is that if you don't know that your brain is being jammed full of stuff, you can keep going.
1) Shipping news this week saw an interesting (and rare) shipyard transaction. Bark River (MI!) company VanEnkevort Tug & Barge was the high bidder for previously shuttered Erie Shipyard in western Pennsylvania. What makes this intriguing is that VTB is already on the leading edge of Great Lakes transportation: they new-built their current vessel, Great Lakes Trader, rather than opting for an expensive conversion of an inefficient older ship. They have embraced the integrated tug/barge concept for short-sea shipping and are certain to hold a cost advantage for some time. Finally, with a new-build-capable shipyard and a 1000'+ berth, they have almost instantly become a Great Lakes power player...they'll lead the market and everyone else will have to come to them for repairs. Well, well, done.
2) Quizzes are upcoming in classes abundant. Accounting and statistics will both have quizzes by the end of Monday, which means this ought to be a downright lousy weekend. Friday night practice quiz? BooooYEAH!
3) I got a locker. This is a lottery-based thing, so I am stoked. It will just be really nice to have my class materials actually at Ross so that I don't have to shuttle things back and forth.
4) Ford is scheduled to be on campus today with a GT, Mustang, Escape hybrid, and a Volvo XC-90. I'm dubious that bringing autos onto school property is really going to convince people that they want to work for you. It might work at the undergrad level or perhaps for engineering grads, but MBAs want to hear the difference between companies and the benefits of them.
I am a winter kind of guy...always have been, always will be. Snow, ice, wind, and cold are my domain of choice. So, when it is the 13th of September AND 90 degrees Fahrenheit in Ann Arbor I am not a happy camper. The clear sky is great, the slight tinge of color on the trees from overnight chill is awesome, but I'm against sweating in shorts and t-shirts after August.
There's some general disgruntlement around Michigan nation about the state of the Varsity, but for whatever reason nobody is too concerned about the health of Junior, aka #30 Michael Hart. Hart has been the engine of this team for a year, providing the blue collar work ethic required to have a good season. Put Stevie and Chad on the highlight reel and hype Grady all you'd like, but if Hart is out for any length of time, I rue the season. This is, though, the perfect irony: Hart's behind-the-scenes style doesn't bring a frothy media mob. The frothy media seem more concerned about other things at the moment, but I'm concerned about this.
There's a strange, sudden, and steady routine at Ross. It comes together quickly and hits you hard, but the cadence of life around campus is as much a prop as it is a burden. Block classes - two and a quarter hours at a pop - take some getting used to and a little planning ahead. (I pity the fool who doesn't bring a breaktime snack!) There is a never-ending stream, nay torrent, of emails to be read, deleted, responded to, or flagged. In fact, an astoundingly high percentage of my life is now done within the realm of Michigan's kerberos login universe. Study room reservations, emailed meeting invites, printing, updates from faculty, and even tickets for the upcoming varsity hockey season are all just a wireless click away. A year ago I wrote a post about the difference between Webb and the College of Engineering; the differences between Webb and Ross seem to be more about numbers than anything. I sure do miss Pete's cooking, though!
posted at 10:57 PM - comments
Sunday, September 11, 2005
It was bound to happen eventually and yesterday it did: Michigan lost at The Big House. This was the first loss I've seen live and it was hard to comprehend the missed opportunities, denied chances, and strange bounces that Michigan faced. At the end of the day, bad luck, missed calls, and poor offensive execution did in the Wolverines. But, even if Rose Bowl chances are slim, at least conference title hopes are intact as Iowa and Ohio State also lost.
The weekend really started with a rough day at MBA Games on Friday, complete with injuries and too-much-time-in-the-sun exhaustion. To top it off Section III finished with a painful 5th place score...we fell victim to our own priorities, choosing to practice and organize our section cheer rather than our sports. After a consolatary (Real word? Does it matter?) round with the team at B-dubs, it was home for case reading and to await Jenelle's arrival. We made a fairly late evening of it, hitting the Main Street scene: window shopping, bumping into friends, dinner at Mongolian barbeque. Classic.
Saturday was, of course, the game. We started early, though, with a haircut and breakfast before heading to the stadium. The band did its part to boost the Maize and Blue with an awesome halftime show that concluded with the whole band in the northwest corner of the field playing "Bohemian Rhapsody" to 15,000 singing, head-banging, Wayne and Garth wannabes. After the game was a Target-sponsored tailgate party that had a definite "wow are we ever looking shaky after that debacle, maybe it's not to late for a QB change, why oh why did Mike Hart have to get hurt?" mood.
On the drive back to Belleville, an electronic turning point was reached...the word 'blog' played prominently in "The News from Lake Wobegon" on A Prairie Home Companion. I think that NPR is a true test of the viability of new technologies - litmus paper for the saturation level of e.stuff. Plus, there's something satisfying about the new tools and new media of my lifetime rising above the clutter into the subtly satisfying realm of APHC...when you hear about blogs from CNN.com or on SNL or some similar high-paced outlet the hype seems to outpace reality, but Garrison Keillor's hypnotic radio voice recalibrates our perspective. How strange that I should mention this in a blog....
Technically speaking it is the end of week 1. It was a short week, granted, but it was a good intro to the pace and level of the classes ahead. So far the work is manageable, but it is certainly easy to see that that will stop...my first group meeting is scheduled for Sunday at 3 to review a case and to me that is more indicative of things to come than the past few days and weeks have been.
Big night tonight, too, as TMI kicks off at long last. Unfortunately that aspect of my education is taking precedence over a pretty serious teambuilding activity in Shout! Off!, the SC Johnson-sponsored yelling match that pits MBA 1 sections against each other in a battle of lung capacity, school spirit, and pure high-school fervor for the challenge ahead. Shoutoff is part of a bigger teambuilder, the annual MBA Games. The Games take place at Mitchell Field tomorrow and appear to be a day-full of activities. We're hazy on the rules, but I think that regardless of minor stipulations laid forth by school and UMBSA Section III is in pretty good shape. If we can get Ian loose behind the secondary and Tug-o-War can prove sometimes biggest isn't best, score $500 for ourselves. There's a notion, though, that the winning section should contribute the prize to Hurricane Katrina relief. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it - in 24 hours or so, tired and sweaty as we may be.
Many various and sundry things going on today, which are worth listing mostly because not listing them would mean the end of internet time and the start of my trek home, burdened today with a backpack that must weigh 35 pounds...maybe more?
Today was 'just' another day of classes, but it was also a late start that afforded some time to buy books. Buying books on the way to school was a big mistake, because I've got to deal with their substantial heft and bulk all day.
Courses today were ACC 502 (Accounting) and CSIB 503, Corporate Strategy. It is fun to just work through the topics at hand regardless of the course, and that counts double in CSIB. We worked through a Southwest Airlines case this afternoon gleaning what we could about competitive advantage, core competencies, and sticking with the business plan/model that has brought success.
After class...Meet The Clubs! In the serious/definite category are M-Trek, Operations Management Club, and Habitat for Humanity, followed by Wine Club, Automotive Club, and Luxury Goods Club. The last (two?) tie into my previous life as a yacht designer, but others are forward looking, recreational, or service groups. A surprisingly wide array and plenty of great opportunities. Par for the Ross!
It's ON. MBA kicked off this morning with OMS 501 Business Statistics and was followed immediately by BE 502 Applied Microeconomics. It was over four hours of class, learning hard. There's already an intangible sense of the madness looming. The halls at Ross are slammed with people from all corners of the academic business world: BBAs, Executive MBAs, MBAs, staff, faculty, prospective students, current students from the university at large, and a few other, non-categorized random interlopers.
Big weekend just passed, with a football game and Labor Day and all. The game was what it was - as with many early season games our attention was elsewhere. This week it was in Pittsburgh where next week's opponent (Notre Dame) looked dominant over Pitt. The Big House faithful cursed the defense early and often, as holes from last year popped up as if it were still the second half of the Rose Bowl. I find myself missing the reference table at MPYD and running down the docket with Drew over some lunch. PB & J really cranks up the nostalgia, that's what I always say.
Other bits and pieces...yip. Nice weather. Ate corn abundant. Sloppy joes, my favorite picnic food. Picnic! Whoa M-Trek picnic was cool. Treks gone awry all over the globe. Angelo's breakfast - eggs benedict and a pint of hollandaise. MBA tailgate, thanks Sprint for the phone card for hurricane relief. Watched "On Golden Pond" one evening, what a crazy old poop. Good show, all around.
MBAs are a social bunch I'm finding. Yesterday we bonded while clearing a small stretch of forest in a park in northwestern Detroit, then came back to A-deuce for a pizza party and a couple of other stops. We hit B-dubs (referred to as B-W-3's here?) and then moved out to the Forest Court house of an MBA2. It was pretty fun to be in such a homogenous group that was simultaneously so diverse.
Today we gathered at Caroline's parents' house atop the hill on Geddes. Holy cow - easily the biggest house I've ever been in, but we got together a pretty decent chant for Thursday's section-by-section Shout Off. It would be easy to be totally sectionally brainwashed...and S3 is where I would want to have it done. A great blend of people, that is for sure.
Last post until football. The three extra hours' wait of a late-afternoon game is painful at this point, but there's corn in the fridge and a UMBSA tailgate to hit in the early afternoon. Let's....Go....Blue!