Mtrek.org has been receiving the bulk of my web-oriented attention this week, so no fun pictures for browncow. So sad. It's fun to be a webmaster because you get control over content - you can bet that The Maine Event is well represented, pictorially speaking, throughout the site.
Yesterday was China day down in the Student Lounge and today was Switzerland day which presents two tie-ins to yesterday's events. For one, the Swiss delegation (two folks, a local high school exchange student, and a professor) served up raclette-and-potato goodness. For two, Mike Widmer was the captain of the white cross in a sea of red. I got the skinny on suitable raclette bottomings (or whatever the inverse of toppings is called) and when it is traditionally eaten. Turns out that potato, cucumber, and onion are the only real raclette bases and that it is actually quite common, eaten around twice a month in the winter, and there is a major push on by Swiss cheese marketers for raclette to become the summertime social standard snack. Fascinating!
The journal ran an article today about the incredible disappearing Libertarian. This op-ed noticed the huge numbers (over 28 million) of voters whose polling and voting results didn't align, such as a pro-gay-marriage Bush voter or anti-abortion Kerry voter, and suggested that this enormous tide of Americans may be Libertarian and not realize it. In this day and age the bipartisan American body politic has been herded into two distinctly opposed groups while the middle ground is left powerless and voiceless even though millions long to stand there and be heard. So little is even discussed about the varying affiliations that represent the middle ground - Libertarians and Centrists, mostly - that they are banished into anonymity. The media likely bears some of the responsibility for this, but no doubt the apathy in some voters and the fear of remaining unheard in others prevents these parties from ever shouldering into the fray. In the meantime they soldier on with standard bearers proclaiming 'down with the status quo,' hoping for a break and their chance to win the minds of the people.
"You're going the wrong way" said Mike Widmer. "I know - it's two o'clock and I'm out" was my reply. Home in the middle of the day to pick up a very late package and do some dishes, unload part of my backpack, grab a binder, and head back to school. It sounds a waste of time but when 2:00 until 3:30 are your 'evening' or 'discretionary time' it is quite a liberty to have some time at home.
Two times back I posted about career free fall. I learned at Aviation Challenge that you can pull out of free fall and that is what happened today. In a span of five or six minutes I picked up the two closed lists I really wanted and had really worked for, so all is looking good again. I'm actually sitting somewhat pretty at this point, with points aplenty to bid on three more projects, block a single one that I may finally decide I don't want, and go from there.
In the middays over the past week there has been a steady stream of free, ethnic food in the student lounge provided by the clubs representing students of the ethnicity of the food being served. Today was China. China = Big Time. If the Chinese constituents of Ross can do a buffet like they did today I can only imagine what the city of Beijing and country of China can do for the 2008 Olympic Summer Games. There's an intangible intense buzz surrounding China that the BRI portion of BRIC doesn't have; maybe it is momentum or the enormous looming bulk of potential prosperity that make China a 8,000 pound gorilla.
Logging in to burn up the few minutes before our OMS 605 group moves into study room W2730 to crank out the case and the homework. I'm just not that fired up about factory physics right now; parts of it are regurgitation of things learned before and parts of it are mathy extensions of this prior knowledge. In many ways the high-level, topical views of graduate engineering were more fun... graduate business often plunks you back down at 'Go' and you start again.
The group in our study room is, apparently, running long. There's a real disconnect between Sunday evening perceived demand and Sunday evening actual demand at Ross. It feels like this should be a sleepy ol' time at school but in reality you can't get a room and if you have one you should get out when the time comes. But, you sign up for two hours and if the first group exits late everybody else takes their two hours plus five minutes transition time and by the time you get to evening groups you get into a 6:00 room at 6:15.
Now that I've blogged that, the door has cracked. Peace.
Whoa man did the Journal ever touch off a firestorm; I scouted around for prefabricated houses yesterday and was pre-stonished at what I found. This stuff is fantastic. From FlatPak IKEA-style panels that you buy and erect on your foundation to boxy vacation homes, these are legitimate, crazy cool dwellings. Check out fabprefab for more information and some tours of the future.
The present has been crowded with OMS case work. I got to Ross at 9 this morning and have worked, continuously, on this case until about 3:15. So much for this particular sunny Friday. Tonight I'm hoping to take care of some other intra-curriculars before setting back into the OMS groove later in the weekend with some homework for Tuesday. There's a case to prep for accounting and MTrek stuff to do, plus law homework and TMI ice skating. Busy times.
I'm beginning to feel like I'm in career free fall. So far no closed-lists, which is a problem because really all but three projects that I'm interested in are out already. Bidding starts tomorrow - not that I'll actually bid before Monday or Tuesday - and with no freebies (closed lists don't count towards bid points) lined up I am going to have to revisit my strategy. For the first time since I quit my job I'm realizing that a return to stable income is something more than a formality. As with so many things, the waiting is the hardest part. Summer work is guaranteed, but I don't want to be subject to the whimsy of my peers and I don't want to wait for five more weeks to find out what I'll be up to this summer.
There's no way around it, the closed list releases today have been in the front of my mind. For the uninitiated, each recruiting company gets to pick (for TMI's MBA students) three of their favorite candidates to put on their closed interview schedule. The remaining interview slots (again three for TMI MBAs) are up for bid. We all get 1000 bid points, but ~20 students are chasing ~60 interview slots, of which around half will be highly contested and half, uh, less so. The first round of interviews, which includes several of my favorites, has 11:59:59 tonight as the close list deadline. So far no dice, but I'm hanging in.
Outside of that a trip north to Francis Xavier Bagnoud's Boeing Lecture Hall for an aero lecture about system design for an unknown future. It was very interesting and fit nicely into my burgeoning architecture-minded thinking, not to mention my modular, convertible, and contingency ship research.
Speaking of things modular and architectural, there was a stupendous article in the WSJ about the new generation mod(ern) mod(ular) homes. Dwell Magazine started this craze with a competition for contemporary architects last year, but apparently it has really taken off. As an aspiring home owner who's looking for something architect-designed but can afford something Smurfit-Stone manufactured, this is a great crossroads. Send me the plans for a hip pad, a container full of glass, wood panels, and pre-formed lumber beams. Yeah, I'll cruise to Lowes or Home Depot or the Great Indoors and get the appliances and cabinets, pick fixtures, paint, and floors. Beyond that, though, I am cool with not having to stand around a dirty mudhole waiting for a plumber to find out why the toilet flushes into the sink. Hooray, prefab! ModMod all the way!
It's a rare double dip for bc today, but more sharing was in order.
First up, hats off to Nate over at Call Me Hoss for reaching post #100. I'm not sure, but I'd guess that the percentage of blogs that reach their centenary post is less than five percent. Keep it coming, Hoss.
Next up, more hoops stuff. Kobe Bryant went for 81 the other night. He also had two assists. I don't know how many assists the Pistons had, but where are their headlines? When are people going to start respecting the Pistons? This is starting to be one of the great dynasties, but I think it will have a pretty unique position in that it isn't "MJ and the Bulls" or "Shaq and Kobe and the Lakers" or even "Magic and Kareem and the Lakers," it's just "the Pistons." Has sports crossed so far over into the realm of entertainment that a good team isn't worth the attention? College ball, man. That's where it is at.
Last night the MBA(2, mostly) basketball gang got together at the CCRB and tore up court 1. You could definitely see the disdain from players waiting for games when a collection of oldsters who had the foresight to reserve a court showed up, ripped off tear-away pants, tied up the fanciest sneakers in the gym, and ran for two hours. I played three games, which was rough. I haven't touched a basketball in over a month and that had a suprising effect on what I used to call "my shot" but I'm now forced to refer to only as "slinging the ball away from my right shoulder." Basketball is nice because offense and defense switch constantly and are fairly intertwined, so if you can rebound, dribble, and pass it might be OK if you are pretty much inept at scoring actual points.
posted at 12:08 PM - comments
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
I just cannot get into my ACC 552 reading. Dakota Office Products is just sitting here on the desk on Kresge-4 and I can't make myself do it. Organize the ol' inbox? Surely. Double check on when close lists are coming out? Done. Search for jobs for MBAs at tiny yacht design firms? Pleasure.
Tonight is a very mythical TMI module called "Ring of Reciprocity." I have something of a hint of the topic, I'm dubious of the value added by this thing. It is required, though, and dinner will be served so I guess we'll chalk this one up to taking one for the team.
Winter A classes are all about pre-learning the material. Cases get increasingly involved and I find that we're building activity-based cost systems and inventory optimization schemes the night before we learn them in class. Even in law you have to know what you know before you know it; my discussion question about Thursday's topic (corporate veil) had to be submitted today. I'm all about being prepared but I am also all about learning from the professors; if I wanted to spend $150 on a textbook and teach myself everything in the first place there would be little reason for me to drop 16 large on this semester to have leather seats while I'm learning.
It is feeling like a much more normal week already; I went home in the middle of the day and cranked out my LHC reading, three loads of laundry, and had lunch. Then we all realized, later during OMS 605, that a big group case is due soon and our lives will revert to busyness in the coming days. Strangely that is all.
posted at 9:34 PM - comments
Sunday, January 22, 2006
After TMI Pit Crew Challenge in the morning, ACC 552 case meeting in the midday, and MTrek knock-down drag-out trip sorting in the afternoon it was really a pleasure to go home (before 6:00 PM!) and collapse. I made jell-o, warmed a loaf of Italian bread, watched some of the Michigan basketball game and an American Experience about the building of the trans-continental railroad, and went to bed. It was awesome. I've rarely wanted to just do nothing so badly in all my life; six hours without any value added was such a change from my operating norm this week that it really honestly felt like vacation.
This morning continued that to some extent - breakfast at my new favorite Ann Arbor eatery, Fleetwood Diner. I had hippie hash and two eggs and two slices of wheat toast and a tall glass of orange juice and am prepared to announce that this was the best breakfast of my life. (Seriously.) Jenelle like breaksfasts out but I'm not really a breakfast kinda guy; this has been a see-saw for us but the tide is turning in her favor. It was pretty easy to imagine us back in A2 in half a decade, eating hippie hash at Fleetwood before heading down to the stadium for a fall classic.
While we were eating we could see, through barely clean plexiglass windows, the foot of Liberty Street and the upscale restaurants on that block. It's amazing to think of the appeal added to a town by storefront details, we decided. Each establishment was a different paint color, each had a slightly different facade, each sign was unique, and each must benefit from the aesthetics of the other. The contrast, in my mind, was a store on the south side of Ludington St. called Quality Sew & Vac. Flat fronted, with 28" or so of blue tile under 6' plate glass windows with a flush door, all topped by a sky-blue and white striped valance and painted-block-letter sign. I guess things are more interesting with a little bit of relief in the facade, solid colors, a mix of glass and wood or mortar, and a dynamic sign.
I think there ought to be flashblogs. Two years ago there were flashmobs, but they went away before I got to be in one and now I think we need something a little more geographically non-discriminant. Just throwing that out there.
NetImpact's MBAidealist conference this morning. It was supposed to be a very engaging panel discussion series about Katrina and (for me) next-generation supply chain sustainability issues. Instead it got a little SNRE-ey for me; too much discussion of what could be done and not about what is being done or how to accomplish that which could be done. The importance of moderators is vastly overlooked in panel discussions... one sat in on each panel and literally just sat there. The supply chain forum had execs from Weyerhaeuser, Ford, and American Apparrel and they each presented a lot of good initiatives for improving the sustainability of their upstream supply chains. However, rather than following up with the logical questions about the downstream chain, some challenges, and where the logistics industry is headed in terms of footprint and impact we spent 35 minutes talking about why 'people' don't consider the sustainability of Ford compared to Toyota when they are car shopping. I've been in this discussion with one of the people in the room and it was incredibly one-sided so I thought it was a bit hypocritical - and not why I rolled out of bed.
Then the final round of TMI presentations. Healthcare manufacturing just doesn't push my buttons for whatever reason. Once a transportation guy always a transportation guy, they tell me. Anyway the fruit was awesome again and it was actually a little bit nice to sit and zone out for an hour.
Today was, by recent standards, a pretty tame day. I had law this morning, which I'm really enjoying. Legal thinking is a different kind of thinking than I'm used to, but I like the logic and reason behind every case we review. There's a solid flow to the information and that appeals to me. In the afternoon during my daily two hours of freedom I framed up some pictures of sculpture from North Campus (begob and Wave Field) taken during fall color season last year and donated them to BlueDoor. BlueDoor is this really cool MBA art charity event that benefits local art efforts that reach school-age children; it's an auction / gallery night combo that sells tickets and auctions art donated by MBAs.
Out on the career path there was a big thump in the road...Honeywell's project, I'm afraid. In the project description it sounded like that was going to be a winner; rearrange a supply chain, improve the bottom line. Come to find out it was more of a project for their third-party logistics provider and a significant chunk of the project may be devoted to creating a customer-service portal (read: website) for the group. Conversely General Cable emerged as a top project - the team will be three steps from the CEO and have a pretty enormous playing field. They even left behind some samples, so I scooped up 25 feet of premium silver-plated speaker cable.
USAToday ran an encouraging cover today regarding MBA compensation. Apparently MBAs are the "intellectual currency" business crave. What does that even mean? Over 100,000 people got Masters degrees in business administration last year, which leads me to think that there may be some risk of inflation in the "intellectual currency" exchanges of the world. I'm also dubious of the author's survey; 5000+ graduates were surveyed and the first year package average was $106k. How can that be? That's a low number for a tier one school, about right for a tier two, and a homerun for the legion of tier-three grads who make up the vast majority of MBA recipients. I think that these figures need to be age-quantified; a 20-year employee makes more without an MBA than a newbie with one, so they would skew the statistics pretty heavily if represented as a 'new MBA grad.' It's like Mark Twain said: "there's three kinds of lies...lies, damned lies, and statistics."
Among the many things that have gone unblogged during this semester of filled evenings and busy mornings and much frenetic activity in between is the begining of decant. At some point after Stephen Ross gave $100m to the school but before Christmas break the powers that be decided to call our intra-building, inter-building shuffling 'decant.' So, classes have moved to Wyly hall as have professors and administrators; TMI offices are where marketing offices used to be. A reasonable person is left wondering why this is the best way to proceed but also why we haven't had access to the incredibly posh digs of Wyly prior to this point.
Snow returned to Michigan today with a clingy 1/2 inch layer. For whatever reason I was struck this afternoon by the incredible sound insulating quality of a dense layer of snow has - the squealing of steering pumps and undergrads are muted to almost nothing all over campus.
Abby and I met with Heather Brown from the Development Office to forge ahead with the art website. It was a promising meeting that ended with several action items on her end and a holding pattern on ours. If all goes well it feels like this thing will be off the ground in no time flat, but we're working at the whim of somebody else (twice) and an IT department at a school.
Whoa Nelly! TMI Corporate Presentations are hitting hard and heavy; I listened, questioned, networked, and missed the hors d'oeuvre trays. Right now I'm saying Boeing 777, Boeing 737, Alcoa, Knoll. Alcoa's project base worries me - too small a business unit to impress much change - but it remains due to coolness and revolution potential.
Yesterday was the car show. Time for me to eat some crow re: Dodge's Challenger. It looks much better, much edgier, much tougher in person. I think Hemi Orange blurs the pictures. It also dwarfs, size-wise, the Camaro. Different cars, I guess. Other observations: it seems like 2005 was a year for new models, 2006 is a year for freshened models or "Hey this year you can sit in the car that was on the turntable last year!" There was a preponderance of suicide doors that seemed a little odd to me. Interiors got better and worse, which seems odd. Odd, too, were heated and cooled glove boxes. Liquor bottles shown in the console of a luxury concept seemed odd and opportunity for a lawsuit. Big cars get bigger, small cars get bigger, but everybody slams the General for making the biggest autos, which, by the way, looked great. Best interior in the show? Judgement call. The 'Like Lutherans to Jell-o Award' goes to Buick Lucerne and the myriad oldsters measuring, sitting in, and fidgeting the four (four of one model? ouch...) Lucernes on the Cobo floor. One notable missed display was the aforediscussed Geely CK - we looked for the dynamo from Chinamo but couldn't find it, so now I'm not sure if the Koreans and their leather clad, moon and tunes equipped, all-around fully-loaded luxury midsize for $29k should be running scared or not.
After NAIAS (where we spent a few hours with Scott and Rayna, btw) it was up to Lansing for a final event with Robin and Aimee before Robin's agenda cranks up and she ultimately jets west once more. We had a great dinner at The Parlour on Campus and a round at Harpers. Aimee shared zoo stories, Robin shared ice-making stories, Jenelle and I shared a junior banana split, and all was good.
A person might expect a midwestern ski resort 45 miles northeast of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, to be a sleepy old place on a Saturday in January. Well, it wasn't. A year ago Robin and I won this trip and now Jenelle and I are enjoying a 6-person chalet at Searchmont and a weekend in the Canadian north. The weather has been perfect for skiing and it was Mardi Gras on the slopes today, in addition to Brigitte Acton Day. It's probably rare for a midwestern mountain to have an Olympian skiing around the slopes on a January, but when the Olympian calls the hill home you get to ski in the tracks of an Olympian. (Very impressive, by the way. Her tracks were, in every way, perfect; two parallel curving rails that were never anything but an incredible oblique 'v' in the snow.)
For archival purposes a review of Friday, too: MTrek interviews went well but long. Some people were way more excited about their trips and some people were excited about different things about their trips, but all should be good experiences for incoming MBAs. There was another round of TMI corporate project presentations as well. GM, Merck, John Deere, and ATKearney were on campus to share their projects; for whatever reason I just couldn't get into any of them. Merck's project is probably a winner and Deere's would be a great fit for me but I'm not into those companies or Puerto Rico or Orenburg Russia. GM's project just doesn't sound cool, and I'm not gunning for consulting so it'd be against b-school protocol and etiquette to pursue a 70-hour per week summer job. Finally, we got our MAP binders - over 100 options for the seven week Multidisciplinary Action Project that fills Winter B. I've barely cracked the cover.
Alright a qiuck qualifying comment to amend the statement I made earlier in the week about Webb being harder than Ross; Webb was harder but not busier than Ross. Inside the walls of the institute the students weren't really busy, they were simply swamped with work. No running around, no scheduling, just work. Here there is less work but way more running around. Scheduling is a pretty big deal when you have a half-dozen appointments in a day without counting classes, meals, and errands. Having to schedule, plan, and then carefully execute meals is a new challenge and it's way different.
End of, incredibly, the first week of Winter A. A review by class: ACC 552 Management Accounting is pretty good, moves fast, good management stuff, and dovetails nicely with OMS 605 Advanced Operations Management which is a fast-paced rundown of methods to plan and monitor manufacturing, that LHC 517 Corporation Law says must happen according to the US Constitution. That's my semester. With or without meals.
The smorgasbord that are TMI Corporate Presentations begin in about 45 minutes. Tonight Borg-Warner and Knoll will be in the Executive wing of Ross, telling tales of supply chain architecture and lean process refinement and wooing the collected engineers and MBAs. This degree is great for a lot of things, but the corporate recruiting aspect of it is simply mind-altering.
Another dreary day in Ann Arbor; I'm ready for winter. Jenelle and I traveled from Ross to State & Liberty on foot last night in a spring-like drizzle and sat in Noodles as the drips turned to drops that fogged the windows. Thunder in the night is way off for mid-January...hopefully it is cold and snowy 350 miles to the north!
Escanaba is back at it with their "pre-feasibility" study for the proposed deepwater port. (This index links to all files.) Among the questionable conclusions reached was the projection of 30,000 containers traveling through Escanaba in 2008. This number is crazy, but gets even crazier when there is no reference of what size 'container' Astra Designs International had in mind; TEUs (20-ft equivalent units) would be a lot of cargo but 30,000 forty-footers is too astounding to even comprehend. That's roughly 575 containers arriving on a ship once a week - a devastating load on UP infrastructure. The whole thing is embarrassing.
The biggest news in my lexicon this week, though, is Bernard Charles visit to UHS. Mssr. Charles is the CEO of Dassault Systemes, the company behind CATIA and thus nearly every major industrial and manufacturing project since the launch of such software on the design of the Boeing 777. He was in town for the auto show and spent the morning at University High with press in tow...great news for the upstart school.
Only having three courses is like a vacation, but it's going to be a fun one because I have an entirely new subject matter to absorb: LAW. Ross requires everybody to take at least one LHC (Law, Humanities, Communication) course to get their MBA and this seemed a fine time to wrap up mine. It was pretty interesting; I'm an anti-litigant so there's no doubt in my mind that I'll be butting heads with some people, but it's good to get a (much) better feeling for the lay of the land if you, and by 'you' I also mean the company that I work for, operate within the law.
The first day of LHC 517 is especially poignant to me because I heard yesterday, smashed between car show coverage on the local news, that a woman is suing TGIFridays because they mistakenly served her son a Long Island iced tea and he got sick after drinking the whole thing. Yeah, I agree that that is bad, but if your kid orders lemonade and you get a dark brown drink with a tiki-umbrella in it, shouldn't that trigger something? The concerned parent also said she began to worry when he said "it tastes funny" but it wasn't until they were getting up to leave and the toddler stumbled that she tried the drink. I hope she wins her suit against TGIFridays and the jury awards her $1000 in parental counseling gift certificates. What a bunch of crap.
Finally, on to the car show. I know this blog gets a pretty diverse readership, in terms of the auto industry, but here are my uncensored thoughts:
Top news is muscle cars. I'm more of a GM guy, thus the Camaro is interesting to me. It's three lousy years away but I like the heritage curves with tomorrow's details... kind of Art & Science kicks you in the chops styling. The Challenger looks smooth, but to me the design lacks the punch that the Camaro has. The proof of this pudding is in the mirrors; Challenger (left) has retro stalk and pod mirrors while Camaro sports some very minimal race-type mirrors.
It all comes down to preference, but Pontiac/Holden's GTO rennaissance throws a flag up on the rounded powerbulges of the Challenger. GTO turned fewer than 12,000 copies last year with 400hp on tap and the finest interior in a sports car. The GTO is what it is, but I think people stood out in favor of a little more spice in their styling.
It's been nice to finally hear some talk about diesels. I know I beat this topic to death, but where are the Euro-sportwagons? Show me an Opel Astra 1.9TD, Audi A3 2.0 TDI, and BMW 120d and I'll show you cars that get better gas mileage and cost less than a Prius (or all but the Saturn Vue green line and Ford Escape hybrid). These are solid cars with turbocharged performance, sporty interiors, and high-class heritage that are only available in Europe.
Car show reveals are something strange. Marching bands, models, famous people who clearly have no idea what they are talking about, comedians making bad jokes, and some crazy pageantry. The new Wrangler drove through a (rigged) plate glass window at COBO, which proves to me that I'm definitely going to want one of those babies for all of my plate-glass-window-smashing needs. One I did like, despite being wasteful and extravagant, was the Chrysler Aspen 'snowstorm' reveal.
People are pretty worried about the Big Three (or at least two), but I'm worried about everybody...right down to Hyundia and K-K-Kia. Tucked away in the lobby of the NAIAS is a display from Geely. (Read more at Jalopnik.) The 7151 CK (or 7151A if you read the badging on the car) is not a pretty automobile; it's not sporty, it doesn't have any show-stopping features, and it's not even available for sale. But it is from China, and I fear it signals the end of the auto universe as we know it. Within a few years I am willing to bet that Geely will be inside the hall, perhaps using space taken by today's biggest players - all of them, domestic or not. What's scary is that a Camry is built here with 90% American content, while a Geely or Cherry would be built in China with ~0% American content. If times are hard now, what will happen when Toyota or Honda have to announce a midwestern plant closing?
Winter A began with a cru-blam-ohhweeeeeeee-nnnggnggngntnntntnttn this morning at 8:00 AM Michigan time. S3 converged in E1540 for Management Accounting and all was back to normal. The assembled had a good break with two engagements, two weddings, and one baby. Duane also switched to coffee and Caroline got new sunglasses. It's funny what sitting in a room with a group of 70 people 18 hours a week will do to your memory.
Mandatory weekend recap: Friday night we watched hockey down at Yost and then "The Incredibles" back at my place. Saturday we were out and about; World Market, Mir's Oriental Rugs, Moosejaw, Sun & Snow Sports, Hollanders, and etc. In the evening we had dinner and zipped back down to Yost and saw several returning MBAs in Section 18, which was a pleasant addition to the game. Sunday got a little gobbled by TMI mock interviews in the middle of the day, but the afternoon was sunny and afforded a walk outside and plenty of time for work.
Doug (from Webb days) was in town, or in region more correctly, so we got together for dinner on Sunday. He's kicking off the LFM plant tour with stops in and around Detroit, which included an evening in Dearborn where he, Jenelle, and I had dinner at Chili's and met a few of his friends at Bailey's for a drink or two afterwards. It was great to 'talk shop' with another Webbie-turned-MBA. Two points of agreement stand out in my mind: 1. Accounting and engineers don't mix and 2. Webb was way harder than b-school. He also said something that I found myself agreeing with, somewhat to my internal surprise, that without our engineering dual degrees this might not be the direction we would have chosen. (Ask again in five years, though, we joked.)
The sun is out for the first time since December 19th (except for 14 minutes during that interval as observed at DTW) and it's the last day of lurch week. Somehow the sun shining in through the window heating the carpet in the living room makes me thing about, strangely, radio.
There's plenty of good radio out there but you have to swing low on your dial to get to it; find an NPR station and listen for an hour...that's good stuff. We heard an All Things Considered poem about fishing on the drive north that really captured the beauty of public broadcasting - Fishing, An Epic by Kevin Kling. Check it out and I promise you won't regret it.
We find ourselves, on occasion, scanning Saturday morning radio stations on our way to vacation. If we have our druthers we try to turn in to the Tappet Brothers, Click and Clack, for better entertainment than we can ever get from any others. Their show is Car Talk and last week's episode was a gem, we laughed out loud in the car along with them. Tune it in and learn about your car, car repair, or how to get the dog smell out of the third-row seat of a 1997 Honda Odyssey.
Last night we watched (yes, on TV) the 30th Anniversary broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion. Usually we hear APHC in one car or another headed east or west or north or south and it is generally the welcoming voice of Garrison Keillor that reminds us that it's Saturday night from 6 until 8. There's something unquantifiably soothing about the show, more than Pat Donohue's expert guitar, Tom Keith's awesome sound effects, or even the softness of Mr. Keillor's voice. What gets me is not the content so much - I laugh louder at and am more excited by other outlets - as the media itself. It's radio that is soothing, just the clear sound of a voice coming from nowhere and channeling your attention with something that has to be engaging or you won't listen for long. Radio is about stories and music and subtle comedy that makes you think (or at the least recall the vast experience of your life up to that very moment and all of what you perceive will happen after that moment) and by the end of The News from Lake Wobegon you can help but love it. Last night Garrison Keillor, speaking as the boss and leader as I've never heard before, talked about how to last 30 years: don't have meetings, don't try new ideas but instead use old ones that people loved and have forgotten, hire people smarter than you, and be sure to appeal to shut-ins and people who are related but don't want to interact with each other. That's sound advice for a radio show or a blog, in my opinion. I've only been around for 25 years of APHC but its continuity is something remarkable, albeit somewhat overlooked because I'm not thinking about the next 30 years I'm thinking about the next Saturday night with Garrison Keillor singing Tishomingo Blues and introducing "a live broadcast of A Priarie Home Companion coming to you from the Fitzgerald Theater here in beautiful downtown Saint Paul."
All right where we at? College football season is over, there're no upcoming elections, and school is out for another three days. What the heck am I going to blog about?
Rough few days for world leaders; Ariel Sharon had a second, much more severe stroke and the outlook isn't good. Someone else died but perhaps slipped under the radar - Sheik Maktoum bin Rashin al Maktoum of Dubai died while on holiday in Australia. Sheik Maktoum has watched over his Emirate as it transformed itself from sleepy oil-rich sub-Arab state into a trendy international glam-state that is setting the pace for travel and tourism as well as development business. Plus, he pushed the Victory Team that was the source of much of my work at MPYD. Michael even met him once, but in all of his (Mike's) excitement he shook hands with the wrong person. Whhooooooops.
With some sadness I watched the end of (college) football season. Goodbye to marching bands, goodbye to shirtless fans, goodbye to to 97 rows of stands. After losing, Matt Leinart was so lost that he said "well it was a hard-fought win." Uh, Matt, you lost bud. Sorry. It's going to be a long off-season for Wolverine faithful as we look forward with more than a little trepidation to September 16th - the first road game of the year and our first loss of each season since 1999.
I've been up to this and that preparing for school, which results in entire days without much quantifiable stuff to report. However, much of my effort has been going into the afore-mentioned Art on View website and that is a deliverable. I've never really 'developed' a website per se, so I didn't know how much real work there was in making sure that every little thing worked from every possible angle. Sure sure, this one works fine, but it is frame-less and blogger.com provides much of the difficult coding free and automatically every time I hit "Publish Post." For AoV I'm developing all of it, including a randomly-generated sample page and the CSS (cascading style sheets) that force every page to look identical and allow changes to a single file to be propogated throughout the site. "God is in the details" said Le Corbusier of, fittingly, architecture. His successors flipped his stance and said "the Devil is in the details," and I'm not sure who has got it right.
I looked up "the lurch" on M-W.com (because I have free time) and found that it is "a vulnerable and unsupported position." Not quite the definition I had in my head, but still applicable to my week. Jenelle headed back to work today but I don't start up again at Ross until next Monday so I've got this weird four-day weeklet to take care of a busy-afternoon's worth of errands and details.
Today (so far) has been about finishing touches on the Art on View website. I did get a beta off the ground over break, but there are still a few nagging issues with nav and image sizing. I had expert help on color and design and I think the thing is looking pretty sharp. Last year when I did the Quarterdeck Society website the organization had gotten it quoted and was given estimates of $1300 - $1500. That site represents about 10-15 hours of work while AoV is more like 50...you do the math. This is also a bigger and much more advanced site so I'm thinking this is not a project that would have been done otherwise, not that it is done yet. The follow-thru from the proponents of the site has been a little sluggish and that will have to change if all is going to be live before Blue Door on January 20th.
I'm back on the FireFox bandwagon today. Over break I just about lost my patience with the fixed res on my monitor, so today I launched a quest to up my useful screen area and found a solution in the form of a slimming theme for the browser. It's appearance is clean and sharp and it adds about half an inch to my screen. What a totally unexpected free bounty!
Speaking of free: another Cleveland picture, complemented by a new feature photo from Cleveland for those lucky enough to generate random number 23!
We spent New Year's in Cleveland, OH. It was a quick trip to the nearest city that isn't Detroit. It was a pleasant weekend - despite unpleasant dreary weather - to explore the Mistake by the Lake. The first thing we discovered was that Cleveland is an architectural gem. Nevermind IM Pei's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, there were dozens of interesting buildings from classical City Hall to Beaux Arts City Auditorium to modern/minimal office buildings to post-modern towers. Among the buildings were a bounty of great sculptures and monuments - all in all a ton of unexpected eye-candy.
The Rock Hall is the definitive Cleveland attraction, so we headed there on Saturday.
It took over four hours to tour the museum, take in the memorabilia, and eat lunch. There were amazing artifacts and interesting perspectives on the history of the genre, amazing both in quality and quantity. (The deed to Graceland, ZZ Top's Eliminator '33 coupe, and the organ used for Led Zeppelin's I, II, III, and IV were highlights.)
From the museum we headed out on the town for dinner and celebrating. We found a great Italian place and lucked out getting a table, enjoyed ourselves and had a luxuriously long dinner. Then we headed out and toured the downtown districts on foot, taking in the metropolitan scene before heading back to the hotel for the ball drop in Times Square.
Sunday was the day to tour the outlying neighborhoods - Little Italy, Cleveland Heights, Coventry, The Flats, Tremont, and most notable the campus of Case Western Reserve. All in all it was a great view of the city, but shops and museums were all closed, so we headed out a little earlier than planned to give ourselves an evening in Michigan.
So, a couple of thoughts. First on football. I'm a Michigan fan and that has been a sore spot the past few days. How can the Wolverines lose that game? I mean forget the craziness of officials' incompetence and people on the field and the necessity of using timeouts to get plays reviewed (OK, don't forget that stuff, it was pretty bush league), why can't Michigan bury teams? They had Nebraska running, it was go-time for Hart and Breaston and Manningham, and instead you get turnovers and poor D and then BAM you lose. My Dad told me a joke about Mrs. Carr giving Lloyd his breakfast cereal on a plate because if she hands him a bowl he'll lose it, and I have to laugh. Having a recruiting coach is fine, but losing five games by a total of 21 points and all in the last minute doesn't pass muster. And to be fair, the players had a hand in ruining it, too. Avant coughed up the ball, Henne held it too long, and Manningham dropped a gimme. Dropping third-and-short passes is standard Michigan bowl stuff; we'd be on a two-game winning streak if receivers could catch balls on third and short.
Next up, driving. Modern cars are a marvel, with cruise control and turn signals and brake lights and head lights, but nobody uses this stuff. I've got ten bucks for anybody who emails me a video of a car using all of these things on the highway. It's just too crazy out there with wireless phones and videos; what happened to riding along, watching out for traffic, kids reading in the back, being safe?
Why does the Ohio State fight song get stuck in your head like that? Fight the team across the field, sure. But knock it off with the band playing, already. College football and bands are intertwined, but a first down is time for a creative cheer, not the school song.