It's the morning after in Big Rapids, where Scott and Rayna were married last evening. The whole 'weekend' (what do you call a midweek span of two days?) was great; family came from all over on Wednesday for an open-to-all rehearsal dinner that featured a pasta buffet which was, I don't think I'm exaggerating, the most glorious thing ever. Then we headed back to the hotel for a great, social after party that lasted well into the evening.
Yesterday, aka The Big Day, the younger generation started the day with breakfast together and then headed off for two games of bowling before the groomsmen had to be off to start getting ready. The ceremony was very nice - especially the minister's message. Bridesmaids were beautiful and groomsmen handsome, to say nothing of the bride and groom themselves. After the standard post-wedding photo op (which is now a spectator sport) everybody gathered at the reception for dinner, dancing, and a chance to talk with afore-mentioned family members. A real highlight was spending some time with Jennifer... a first for Jenelle and I. (We also met, in the flurry of bridal activity, Rayna. Luckily, Scott and Rayna live relatively close to A2 and we'll get to see them again soon.) It got late really fast, and we said goodbyes all around and were off.
Today is a gap day of sorts. We're off to A2 and Belleville and Livonia and South Lyon, but really it is the day between our UP/wedding trip and our Cleveland New Year's trip. We've got cookies, curds, and coca-cola so what else could you possibly want or need for a day around the state?
When I'm in the UP, it's pretty much off to the 8th Street Coffeehouse if I want to use the interwebs. It isn't much, but drinks are cheap and wireless is free and it's only four blocks away - perfect for what I need.
Christmas was nice. Being at home for the holidays is cool; Christmas morning in the pit is a new and totally awesome tradition for my immediate family and guests. Then out to Stonington to have some holiday festivities across the bay. Two rounds of gifts, two Christmas dinners, two wine cellars. Whoa nelly.
Today has been all about the ice. We skated some but the highlight has been the ongoing effort to get an ice rink formed with the pump and some hoses out on the natural ice in the cove. Then ski tuning and now fondue dinner followed by cookies and moonlight/midnight skating.
Happy Festivus! Hopefully everybody got their aluminum poles up and was able to demonstrate feats of strength and air their grievances on Christmas Eve eve. Up in the UP it was rainy and icy, but that didn't stop my intrepid parents from setting off for O'Hare to pick up Robin or from Jenelle and I from making trips back and forth from Stonington.
posted at 8:03 PM - comments
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Packing is like any other job in that it will expand to fill the time alloted. I nipped that trend in the bud by simply delaying as long as I could and then conducting a blitzkrieg-style attack on one unsuspecting duffel bag and one unsuspecting ski bag. When that was done I got an oil change and transmission flush and was on my way to Detroit's northern 'burbs for a UHS staff Christmas luncheon party.
A UHS staff party is like a Webb class meeting. The defining thing about it for people on the inside is that it's fun, but an outsider would first comment on the size... about 12 people in Elizabeth's Birmingham condo with enough food for a staff party of the school district of Portland, Oregon. George, the principal, was there and all but one teacher made it, so I got a sense of what a day must be like at UHS, kind of.
Now it's up to the UP for break, holidays, and snowy winter fun with family. Robin returns from Thailand on Friday so there will be many, many stories to hear. Grandma B and Jaqueline are also going to be around to share Christmas at the club. Should be a really great week or so.
Finally today, a(nother) sigh of relief courtesy of our good friends over at the US Senate. My hat's off to that organization for rebuffing plans to drill for oil in ANWAR. I know Sen. Stevens of Alaska says that oil drilling is low impact, but I've seen 'low impact' oil operations in Alaska and it is anything but. For now, at least, there can be one place in our country off-limits to our insatiable need for cheap fuel (not that drilling in ANWAR will give us cheap gas, but that's a post for another day).
I'm all over town today, shopping and giving blood and stuff. Originally there was going to be a whirly ball outing in the evening but that has been canned, so the day is seeming shorter now. Shopping in Ann Arbor is fun; the stores are pleasant and trendy and crowded around downtown(s) and I like that - in part because I've had good luck.
All morning I've been thinking about that saying ("I've had good luck"). What does that mean? Is it lucky that store A had product Z? I suppose, but wouldn't it be more apropos to say something like "I've been totally successful in my search for suitable goods"? If you go to a shoe store and find a shoe you like, is that lucky? What if you go to the grocery store and scream "HEY JACKPOT BABY! Lucky us, they have bread!" - is that lucky? If nothing else this ingrained term reveals our capitalist tendencies, for better or worse. It also tells us something about the level of discontent we're willing to settle for (almost none) even when buying gifts for other people. This is the inverse tragedy of the commons, because we care even though it doesn't affect us.
When breaks roll around I try not to have projects in line, but this one will be an exception to that, as I am going to try to put together the most sophisticated webpage I've ever done. The project is for Ross' art collection, which I may have mentioned beore, and completing means building a very modular, very updateable site that will have to be about 100 pages and able to expand with the collection. To that end I am saving cascading style sheet tutorials on my machine in anticipation of days spent in the pit learning by doing - hopefully I will have a beta by the New Year!
Down to Ross for a mock interview. Check on email, schedule a blood donation, schedule a hair cut. Mock interview. Context-Action-Result. Glad to be done, isn't marketing fun? Busy domestic day ahead with laundry, cleaning, watering plants, wrapping packages. Pork chops for dinner with glazed carrots and hot bacon dressing on salad. Battery on Low - time to go.
posted at 11:54 AM - comments
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Alright this will be quick. The basketball team lost due to too many turnovers down the stretch. They'll be ranked anyway, I think. Sadly, today John Spencer died. It's sad when actors die in part because it just is and in part because their characters die too. So long, Leo McGarry. You will be missed. John Spencer, I didn't really know you that well but we'll miss you too.
I'm back at blogging because I just submitted the MKT final. The submittal process itself reminded me of Webb/Rowen days of "submit one (1) accordian-folded 11" x 17" clean copy to mailbox 'Rowen' by 23:59 of Friday, November 9th, 1998." Anyway, the simulation was alright, but I guess I'm not sure how much we learned about marketing by doing it. Mostly it was just a case where you could putz around with numbers without having to program them all into excel first. On second thought, I guess there is some value to that. Professor Nordhielm is going to have her market research classes start to fill in all of the mini-cases that have been done in the core class over the past two years so that they will all be available in this simulation form - that'll be some fun. Remind NOT to take that class in Winter A.
Well well. If you like civil liberties - if you've ever heard of civil liberties - this post is for you. The reason I bring it up is obvious, the contradiction we're seeing in the news today. One headline is the Senate voting not to extend the Patriot Act and the other is President Bush admitting that he OK'ed warrantless eavesropping. If illegal wiretaps aren't the best reason I've heard for ending the Patriot Act, I don't know what is. Somebody has to be accountable for the government's actions and (shock me shock me shock me!) it turned out to be the US Senate.
It's a big day sports-wise in Ann Arbor because the Bruins are in town from LA to play the Wolverines in hoops. People were talking about it in town last night and tickets were simply not available. Could basketball be back in Ann Arbor?
I wrote a good portion of the MKT 503 final this morning, but I haven't gone through the simulation yet and that's frustrating. The sim is this weird black-box marketing game where you put in numbers and get numbers out - very hard to prep for and hard to interpret results.
Technology continues to amaze me. Boeing announced today that the Dreamliner will have electronically-controlled shading glass supplied by PPG in its panoramic windows. Basically you get a rheostat switch that varies the transparency of the window glass, doing away with the shade and providing intermediate levels of light. We looked at this for a sunroof on a yacht, but got turned off by the $110 per square foot price. I suppose that on a $130-million list price airliner you can add the bling and nobody complains. I'm very much looking forward to flying a 787.
I'm off to take my finance exam. My cheat sheet ("Use a whole piece of paper! Sure, write on all six sides" says Gautam) is ready but I'm not sure if I am or not. The midterm was too easy, just too darn easy. Now I have the fear about the final, but luckily it will be over in exactly 135 minutes and marketing will be the only final left.
On a day when you complete and submit two final exams a person expects that to be the big accomplishment, but another submittal actually carried a little more gravity. The paper that is the culmination of a semester and a half of GSRA research for the Navy was turned in to the International Marine Design Conference this afternoon. If you are bored next May you might want to head to Ypsi to hear my talk. It is going to be a think piece about naval fleet architecture concepts, reducing human capital requirements, weapons aquisition reform, and modular design from top to bottom. (You'd have to be pretty geeky - a Webbie, for instance - or pretty bored.)
It snowed the whole time I was at school today, which has A2 covered in a layer of thick, springtime snow that is making everything droopy and wet. The snow is sticking to every miniscule tree branch, though, so the view across the Huron River towards the Arb is pretty awesome.
Oliver came home from the vet last night. His front paws look quite sad indeed; stitches, matted fur, and the missing bulk of claws just leave you feeling badly for the little guy. The vet warned of a very cranky, feisty feline but Ollie just wanted a few bites to eat (his first in almost 48 hours - try that if you only weigh 8 pounds!), to clean his fur, and lie down and sleep. When he woke up he was feeling pretty spry and jumped onto the bookshelves sore paws, cone-collar, and all. We're expecting a speedy recovery and return to general mischief.
Oh the day this was going to be! I had everything laid out like clockwork; an early start to wrap up OMS701 by noon, time for a few moments at the RSB holiday festival, and then an afternoon of MO503. Things started out well enough but I forgot about a finance midterm, OMS701 ran a little long, and now I'm like three or four hours behind.
Last night was the S3 (There's supposed to be a website for S3 so that every time I reference it or a section event everyone out on the pull side of browncow can see what I'm talking about....but there's not, Ed Beltran!) holiday party. Jenelle and I wrapped the cobbler and headed out to Rachel Preston's for the festivities. About 30 people came and we really had a fun time talking and eating and seeing the family contingents that so often slide through the cracks of social functions. Naz and Mike each brought their families and there were significant others as far as the eye could see. And then there was food! A deep-fried turkey, Swiss casserole, pigs in a blanket, some great Asian beef and carrots, spinach dip, guacamole, and two cakes. For the first time I think everybody really felt totally comfortable and like old friends - section-mates and invited guests. The introductions are starting to get sparse and that's a great sign!
This day marked the last of Fall B classes at Ross. Tonight is an S3 Christmas party for which Jenelle and I baked cherry cobbler and then work on finals begins in the morning - MO503 and OMS701 are due on Thursday, FIN503 is on Friday, and then MKT503 is due on Sunday.
Speaking of the morning! Wee Oliver and I took a trip to Belleville Animal Hospital this morning, where I left him to be declawed. Animals have a strange sense of impending suffering. He knew that the vet was not a friendly place, that this was no ordinary tiny room with a steel table, and that all the attention was a little too focused on him. It's also funny to observe his reaction to things, because if he has control over a situation he's going to hiss and growl and (ex-)claw but if he has no control he just gives up and is a lump on the table. It is very odd but a microcosm of larger beings. We'll see what he does when it is time to go back into the carrier for the ride home tomorrow. At least his clawing power will be down by 50%.
Here's a topic that is sure to ruffle some tailfeathers: taxes. I'm a staunch believer in taxes, so much so that I think we should pay more. If that is what it takes to bring infrastructure up to grade level I'm all for it. If that is what it takes to educate students and simultaneously fairly compensate educators I'm all for it. If that is what it takes to set aside parks, go to space, and send up fireworks on the Fourth of July I'm all for it. The reason for this tirade is the condition of roads in southeast Michigan. There's a stretch of I-96 near Novi that is, no exaggeration, 70-80% pothole filler. The expansion joints have been filled so many times that there is no longer a car length in between them, so your ride (for 8-10 miles) is continuously dangerously bumpy. In econ we learn about negative externalities: costs incurred by things beyond your control. This is why taxes can go up; if we equate such negative externalities and taxes, things will be better. We are approaching the necessitation of a system like in (gasp) France wherein the highways are private. Sell the roads, bring on the tolls. The pavement will be as flat and smooth as crisp C-notes, and everyone will complain about the high cost of it all when in point of fact it is just a transfer from paying taxes (or don't, Willie Nelson the country singer) to paying tolls. Either way we need to see a couple long summers of orange cones around the mitten.
While my blood is pumping, a thought on politics and being politically correct. President Bush yesterday estimated that "say 30,000 more or less have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis." Forget the outrageousness of this number for a second if you can and focus on the part about 'more or less.' I realize that nobody knows the body count, but everybody knows that nobody knows and 'more or less' trivializes the hell out of an unimaginable amount of suffering. This isn't an estimate of how much time is left on a parking meter, that margin of error is human life, which our leaders lack the appropriate sensitivity towards. (Still. See also 26 March 2004.)
First up, weekend run down! Friday night: steak, broccoli, glazed carrots. Wine and cheese. After Eights. Whoa. Then off to a hockey game, which the Victors took by a 4-2 tally. Apres-game visit to Leopold Brothers for a rendezvous with friends, a few spirits, and the weekend was on. Saturday: Up early, eggs and hash browns at home before setting off for Royal Oak on our annual shopping day. We were both pretty excited about Royal Oak but after about three hours were feeling significantly less excited. We'd had some luck but didn't feel any endearment to the place and found ourselves pining for the Ann Arbor scene - so we headed back. We made the downtown rounds on Main Street and then ate at Siam Square on our way out of town... good Thai but in constant comparison with the food Robin must find. In the evening, a car sale and some tree decorating, with homemade egg nog and Charlie Brown Christmas on the stereo. When the tree was up and ready, we parked on the couch and completed the holiday media experience with Polar Express. Sunday: Was lazy. Some work got done and stuff, but mostly it was pleasant just to be low key for the first whole day in awhile.
My meta-topic for the day is the coolness of cities. Ann Arbor has it, Vancouver has it. Escanaba doesn't, nor does Lansing. Royal Oak should but misses the mark. Michigan has a much-publicized Cool Cities iniative, but this stuff is tough! It doesn't seem like money buys cool, because if it did Royal Oak would have it. Attainably nifty shops and eateries must help, but Royal Oak and Ann Arbor both have both so this can't be a dependent variable. Surely size should matter, but everybody can come up with a counter to that point. I think downtown architecture is key - closeness of space and breadth of the city center (in Europe the pedestrian zone) give that feel. Pity the city with a five-lane street plus parking on each side dividing their cozy downtown. A two-lane street with parking and a greenway might solve the issue, but that urban neighborhood feel is just not possible with 100 feet separating the two sides of the street. Rue the civic planner who was so ambitious that they created a suburb downtown! Although this isn't my area of expertise, there should be zoning that establishes a minimum ratio of building height to facade to opposing-facade distance. Make the buildings on both sides of the street two stories tall but maintain the feeling. Gandy Street in Exeter bears this out perfectly - one and a half story buildings lining a 'street' not more than 8 feet wide made for an inviting downtown space.
Last night I ducked into Davidson Hall for my final OMS 701 class and when I emerged at 8:30 there were two fresh inches on the ground and no end in sight. It snowed all night, plows ran up and down the roads and driveways, and when I got up this morning there were....(wait for it!) ....three inches of snow on the ground. Only in the LP.
I'm slowly making my way around the Big 3 going on factory tours; Ford was today. We visited Rouge Center and saw the new, state of the art Dearborn Truck Plant. Uh-oh. Ford may be in some trouble. Compared to GM's Lansing Grand River, this is not a good example of current world-class automotive manufacturing. The pace seemed slow, workers had 15 seconds of slack time after every vehicle, and the andon cords were tucked away behind the mountain of inventory piled at each station. We heard last night in class about how hard TPS workers work (a Honda plant in Kentucky had a big problem about a decade back with employees getting into crashes on their drive home because they fell asleep) and the folks down at Ford DTP don't fall into that category. Most troubling, though, were the dozens, nay hundreds, of trucks circling the center of the plant with defects, waiting to be driven on the test track, and standing in line for the water test. The last test is a real killer for me: isn't the test of a quality production system that you don't need testing at the end? If the Blue Oval isn't confident that their vehicles hold out water, I think that will be a good metaphor for what happens to the company.
I'm signing off now to go to the grocery, buy two juicy steaks and some broccoli, and head home to make a dinner perfect for somebody whose lunch got squeezed out of the picture by a hairy schedule.
It is just inevitable that on some days it will not be possible to rely on U of M's Big Blue busses. Today was such a day; I had a manufacturing seminar on North to attend in the middle of the day and the time buffers between classes and this talk simply didn't afford the ten minute waits for rides and the walks to and from the bus stop.
The presentation was by a representative of the manufacturing division of General Electric Aircraft Engines and showed some very interesting new developments in this manufacturing realm. There were some good cookies on the side, too, which was in stark contrast to the gourmet smorgasbord that appeared after the Alcoa presentation at the School of Natural Resources and the Environment. Networking is such a huge component of somebody's life at the U that it seems only fair that food is involved.
Tonight is the last OMS 701 class, which is very good news. The less good news is that all of the networking has devoured free time and now I need to spend my evening prepping for finals, reviewing M-Trek applications, and emailing hither and yon on follow-ups and pre-emptive strikes.
Yop and I happened to be walking towards the bus stop simultaneously and took the opportunity to talk about free time. In the b-school context, 'free time' is time NOT spent at Kresge or in a student lounge, but that doesn't imply that time is actually free for use (consumption) in whatever manner you deem worthwhile. Free time yesterday meant time to go home, eat a real lunch, and read cases for today. Free time did NOT mean time for a bike ride or gym trip, a novel, a walk around Ann Arbor, or a delicious and elusive mid-afternoon nap.
Having Tuesday / Thursday evening stuff makes it really rough to get anything done. Yesterday was TMI module and team selection process time, which left very little time for the other events I needed to shoehorn in: FIN homework and M-Trek planning and MBA hoops.
The deadline for M-Trek applications was Monday night, but there were no Michigan treks so I had to put together a reasonable trip for people interested in staying in the state and in the black. It came together pretty quickly and shaped up to be pretty fun, I think. Try this on:
Day 1 - Drive from A2 to Traverse City. Evening sail on Grand Traverse Bay.
Day 2 - Morning cycling trip. Afternoon at beach and/or winery tours.
Day 3 - Drive to Tahquamenon Falls. Lake Superior beach evening.
Day 4 - Hike along North Country Trail. Travel to Cheboygan.
Day 5 - Half-day canoe trip on yet-to-be-determined river. Home to Ann Arbor.
The goal is to be under $500 for the week per person, which sounds like a lot until you factor in van rentals. This would be the cheapest trek offered in the past two years, so that pretty much fits in with my goals for the organization.
This was a weekend of many things, some exciting and some less so but all good. Saturday evening we reheated pesto from the blog for two voices some months back and had a simple supper before heading downtown to brave the cold standing in line for Warren Miller's Higher Ground, a ski flick at the Michigan Theater. It was a pretty full house and everybody cheered and grimaced at the crazy cliff hucks and not-so-crazy landings, but mostly people got fired up for the coming snow season. If the film didn't get you ready for winter, that was too bad because the weather outside afterwards was, in a word, wintry. We headed across town in the blowing wet snow to a 29 1/2(th) birthday party at Arbor Brewing Company. There was a pretty friendly MBA crowd on hand and the group got pretty fun pretty fast.
Sunday was a different kind of day, but still a dandy. We made a Meijer run for chili stuffs and settled in to get some work done. I plugged away at marketing homework and computer troubleshooting while Jenelle graded fast and furiously. We 'reconvened' later in the evening to eat the chili and watch a movie, then had dessert over a very funny book of college paper outtakes.
In the midst of all that, though, it was Selection Sunday, the day of reckoning for college football teams. I had held out hope for a Michigan trip to sunny Florida and a January bowl but it wasn't meant to be and so it'll be a blue Wednesday in San Antonio when Michigan faces Nebraska in the Mastercard Alamo Bowl. Michigan needs to shore up its bowl performance reputation if it doesn't want Iowa picked above it even when the 'Hawks lost an extra game, including the one against U-M. One of the great subtleties of Michigan athletics seems to be the lack of a killer instinct; that'll keep you going to medoichre bowls for decades at a time but prevent outright dominance. Hockey and basketball have it, too. It took a quintet of fiery-eyed frosh to lift the basketball program out of the content contender category in the 1990's and it might take a shake up in the press box to get that done with the football program.
TMI module on Saturday means a multi-tasking blog from K1320 on a Saturday. We (the TMI1s) are in a Six Sigma class during the heart of a great-looking day, which is fine I guess. The administration released 'the numbers' just in time for the TMI-on-the-weekends part of the year, and I doubt very much that that was coincidence. Essentially I think I'm willing to give up a Saturday or two now (I sub zero) in favor of future growth opportunities (C sub n).
Jenelle and I went to Campus Martius Park in downtown D-town last night for skating with the UHS staff and students. It was less crowded than Rockefeller and colder, but everybody enjoyed the night out. When the official part - skating - was over we trailed some of her coworkers to Centaur, an upscale social establisment that probably frowns upon the adidas sneaks I was wearing. It was fun to be out and about, but we were hungry and left a bit early to chase down a late-night snack at Hard Rock (the only place whose kitchen was open). It was a night when we picked up some new ideas about what Detroit is all about and drove out of the city feeling better about opportunities for fun in Big D.
Sluggish morning blues. Stupid alarm clock. Big red LED's staring at me. Sun's out, I am too. Cereal dregs with milk dregs for breakfast. Bus. Commuter South to RSB. Across the street, up the stairs, check email in ExecLounge, head to Kresge three. FIN503 homework 4. Ten problems. Six, seven, eight, nine. Submit on time. Compile. Sick groupmember, busy groupmember. Grilled cheese with fries and chocolate milk!?! Oh gosh, 2:45. Mental math....painful grimace. Close up shop. So long Ross, see you in 20 hours.
It's been too long since there's been any media, so here's a picture that corresponds to yesterday's post about libraries. This one is Kresge 4F, not Livingston.
I miss Webb's Livingston Library. Today is a perfect snow-falling on winter trees day in Ann Arbor and I've only seen it for about 90 seconds, walking from Kresge to my FIN class in the Executive building. At Webb I had a spacious table and huge floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out on scenes exactly like the one outside today. But that is just poetic waxing, there isn't much that can be done about it.
Section 3 keeps stretching its breaks. Ordinarily I'd be all about having 15 minutes instead of 10, but when you are paying at MBA rates to be in class, I'm all for 9 minutes instead of 10. The other day I figured out how much I spend per minute to be in class this fall and then promptly forgot the number. I just recalculated and the total is $0.98/minute. Over the course of the semester that adds up to over $500 in tuition spent on watching my sectionmates trickle back from the bathroom.
Last night was the TMI IPD (Integrated Product Development) Trade Show at Peirpont. The products were designed 'to enable mobile technology.' Most were bags or sleeves for laptops, but there was also a cool fold-out caddy that attached to your notebook with velcro and a USB-driven two-port charger for other battery-draining mobile devices. It was pretty cool to see the tangible results of a six-credit engineering and business course; I'd like to participate next fall so watch out for painfully long and frequent online marketing surveys.