Well congratulations. Dubai isn't buying our ports, Sasha Cohen fell twice, my finals were ambiguously difficult and MTrek filled most of my Friday. Everybody wins.
Seriously, I'm more bent out of shape about the Dubai Port World thing than any of the others, though I'm not at liberty to discuss exam success or failure due to the Dombrowski Doctrine. At lunch today Jenelle and I were talking about how fear has gripped our nation - terror has won. An msnbc poll said that 86% of respondents thought the port deal should be cancelled, which is astonishing and nothing less. Eleven in twelve people think a bankrupt British company founded on the ideals of imperialism can handle our ports better than a thriving Arabian company founded to promote capitalism. One in twelve thinks this is dumb. I'm that one.
We were also talking about President Bush's agenda; it's so screwy and convoluted that we couldn't make any sense of it. At one point Jenelle suggested that perhaps one of his hidden policy agendas is probably to have the immigrant workers he's so gung-ho about dig a giant "freedom ditch" along our borders with Mexico and Canada and then a giant "freedom box" to put over the island they've created. That would keep us safe from terrorists. Except that then we couldn't escape the freedom box to spread democracy all over the Middle East, where terror obviously runs everything except for Dubai Port World, Inc. They're cool, I'm baffled, and it is the weekend.
Tired of studying and ready for more blogging? Sweet. Everybody is all in a furor over this whole port thing. You know, plenty of terrorist money went through Sarasota, too, but nobody would object if the State of Florida formed a company to buy up some ports. Dubai is as anti-terror as anybody in the world (ourselves included) for the very reason we're seeing here: terror prevents them from making money. I'm sure the Sheikh is cursing Osama bin Laden louder than most because he's losing billions while people think they'll get blown up by an IED at his airport or hijacked aboard one of his airplanes or that his companies will deliver bombs to their kid's elementary school.
What's doubly hard here is that our ports aren't secure now. Less than 5% of containerized (and way less break-bulk) cargo is ever checked - if that is secure to you then you are a dopehead - because the government agencies who insist on doing the checks are, amazingly, unable to get 'er done with their trillion dollar budgets. In my opinion letting Dubai Port World manage all of the terminal operations would probably be the most secure and most cost-effective way to run these massive ports.
Further, if we are interested in stopping terror why are we concerned about our ports at all? Shouldn't we be searching ships at the sea buoy? I mean if we are scared of a dirty bomb detonation at a container terminal in Port Elizabeth a dozen miles from Manhattan we should be just as scared of it detonating off the deck of a ship at half that distance. In essence, the security of American ports is irrelevant - the ports whose security we need to beef up are those that load cargo bound here. Why don't we let DPW buy port operations here and then send our Coast Guard to Hamburg, Zeebrugge, Seoul, and Shanghai to actually keep us safe?
Is testing knowledge the whole point of college? My accounting final just ended. Yesterday my group and I sat with the case for about four hours and hammered out as much accounting as we know; today that paid off. That leaves me questioning the whole validity of the exam strucure... I learned from prepping, shouldn't that be enough? Why do I need to learn, then memorize, then regurgitate in a high-stakes, closed-book examination? What does this prove?
Anyway, there's another one coming up in a few hours so I'd better fly. I'm on Kresge 4 with big white clouds visible across the floor through the windows that are my sky. It's exam time. Perfect for a blog slash rhyme:
Helping the kids out of their coats/But wait the babies haven't been born
Unpacking the bags and setting up/And planting lilacs and buttercups
But in the meantime I've got it hard/Second floor living without a yard
It may be years until the day/My dreams will match up with my pay.
My first (and only?) law exam went down yesterday. That's tricky stuff - which one is more correct? Is (a) correct, (b) correct, (c) correct, (a) & (b) correct, or are none correct? Room for interpretation and multiple choice are not compatible exam features, but I battled it out until I got to the essays and pounded those out.
After the exam I headed out; Jenelle and I spent the afternoon together with Olympics, MTrek trip website updates, cooking, eating, reading the ACC 552 case, and chasing Oliver until he was too tired to be annoying. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon, even though there was much work to be done and not a ton actually got done. But, sausage and kale soup for dinner with Torino action for entertainment makes for a great escape from the grind of finals week.
It is a day of (cue booming voice-over) Shocking Revelations!
1. The Canadians don't have the Olympic Theme music that we Americans do! I thought John Williams thunderous overture was a worldwide symbol of the games, but it turns out that only a few countries recognize it as even being associated with the Olympic movement. Astounding!
2. Exam week is hard. Usually finals comprise the easiest week in school; this well-known fact dates back to undergrad days. This go-round, though, is slammed with MTrek stuff and Habitat (heretofore known as HFH) stuff and MAP stuff, not to mention laundering and packing for Winter Pizzark.
3. Speaking of undergraduate doings, I knew my first person in the WSJ today! Holy smackers, an above-the-fold reference to a college professor endeared only by his email address (which happens to be his initials, NJG). Sadly this was in the Personal Journal so there was no Neil-icious dot photo and he was in for being stranded at an airport during the blizzards last week, not something exciting like outrageous executive compensation, white collar crime, or being the chief agent representing the incumbent of a leveraged buyout tender.
4. An Arabic company is trying to buy up US ports! Wait, what? Didn't we talk about that on Friday? NO! I found out this morning that that post was lost by a substandard wireless connection. Anyway, Dubai Ports World is buying the controlling stake in six major ports (New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia) via their buyout of P&O Lines. The sheik is too smart for us; his management of Dubai's capital is brilliant and he's very successfully posturing his little emirate to be the ultimate convergence of city-state, trading nation, tourist destination, and international corporation. Well, well played Mssr. al Maktoum.
Last night was the conclusion of the MBA IM basketball tournament; S3 ran the tourney until we ran into the same group of guys that we met in the football championship. That made it less fun, but at least I didn't get dunked on like a couple of other guys. If sports are meant to be fun, there should be some sense of sportsmanship but that crew doesn't have it. Oh well... second place and the high ground are fine by me.
Today is a day that should be easy but isn't. For some reason finals week has gone from the easiest time in a semester to the busiest most frantic few days before break. Everybody is running around trying to get MAP arrangements off the ground, locking in spring break plans and getting ready to be in a much different mode in a week or so.
MTrek continues to be a major time consumer. There are nine websites still out there but lots of work to get ready for registration starting on March 1. We have nearly endless meetings to ensure that everybody is on the same page, budgets are on the up and up, and to track what else we need to do. It's a good product, though, and I'm proud to be pushing this tradition for incoming students.
Bah bah bah, bah bah bah, bah bah bah BA! BOAT SHOW! Cobo is filled with boats this week so we headed over to take in the spectacle. Southeast Michigan is a, shall we say, depressed boating market but people turned out to look if nothing else. As with the post a year ago on the same subject there was something less than a staggering array of marine products, but I think there was some improvement year over year. Interestingly the highlight - both overall and, surprisingly, in the value category was the Tiara Yachts 36 Sovran Great Lakes Edition. Stainless interior details and the signature features you'd expect aboard a Tiara. Last year's winner of this recognition (Rinker's cruisers) slid substantially as their price crept up and quality dipped somewhat. And, as before, the Chris Crafts were the over-the-top queens of the show. They are too expensive, too day-boat-esque, and too beautiful. If anybody has a spare one that weighs less than 4,000 pounds or so on the trailer, I can take it off your hands. Call me, even if it is late.
Last night we took in a period piece ("Pride & Prejudice") down at the Briarwood bargain movie theater. It's so fun to watch these films, with toussled-haired men strutting across misty fields and through dewy forests wearing ridiculously long jackets to profess their love for pretty maidens of undoubtedly lower status in perfect 18th century British accents. After Kiera Knightley had been wooed and taken to a positively gargantuan estate for her happily-ever-after, we headed downtown to Moosejaw, where I picked up some ski gear... a sign that Spring Break: Winter Park is right around the corner. Then home for the Olympics & a reenactment of the Constable video during the women's snowboardcross final. Oh whoops!
posted at 6:41 PM - comments
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Whew. I'm in OMS 605 wishing I wasn't so the blog is a perfect getaway on a day that needs one. The late night meant a rough morning, which meant that I got off behind the 8-ball on my day. Ultimately the day is a success because MTrek websites are half done, my OMS 605 case is in, and the Ross HFH chapter raised $9,280 in its annual auction.
In operations we're learning that variability can bind, slow down, and ruin processes. That is exactly my problem: my queue of WIP (work in progress) spikes wildly during days like this when dozens of projects cross my desk. My mom mentions this from time to time... the inane jobs don't take up all of your time, but by the time you've conducted 50 'setups' in a day you may find that 'utilization' skyrockets and everything you'd hoped to 'accomplish' is 'impossible' and all you can do is 'bang' your head on the desk until you 'pass out.'
I'm also starting to have an issue - internally and externally - with being busy. Everybody is busy, everybody knows it, and yet it is still a totally legitimate excuse for subpar performance. I've played the card before: I'm busy and will get back to you. I'm too busy to do this or that right now. My beef is that we seem to ignore the inertia of being busy and continue to make ourselves busier, to the detriment of the things we're already busy with. Know your limits is all I'm trying to say I guess. Sorry to have taken so long to get that out... I know you are busy.
Plenty to report in this late-night blog. Yesterday (two days ago now) was the 14th of February, now known the world over as St. Valentine's Day. I celebrated with my best girl at her house; we made fondue and enjoyed it very, very much. Gruyere, ementaler, white wine, lemon juice, nutmeg, and pepper make for a lovely show of affection and gourmet-eity.
Tuesday and Wednesday at school were, in a word, busy. The last OMS case, an OMS homework, and a heavy flux of MTrek websites to edit, fix, and post have kept me wire to wire slammed. Throw in today's General Cable interview - my last - and you get the idea.
Once the day was more or less over, there was a MKT 503 Group 7 reunion of sorts at Mark and Lilly's house. These dinner parties are more fun than the proverbial barrel of monkeys. It is just great to experience what other people consider their specialties, to share the conversation of my colleagues, and to be away from school if only for a little while.
The Olympics are in full swing - Liggety and Cheek you are my heroes! It seems like troubles for Americans in big events but whenever a star is DQed or off the pace, an up-and-coming athlete ups and stars. Jen and I talked winter sports and the Winter Olympiad over dinner, because we're both hooked on speed skating and luge / bobsled / skeleton. The idea of competing against time is just awesome. I also like the idea of competing against speed... I'd like to see every speedskater get three labs to skate as fast as they can, with the highest instantaneous speed getting a gold medal. We have the technology, we have free time. Last one to the podium is a rotten egg.
Sometimes it takes a day or two for a week to hit full stride; this one took less than three hours. OMS 605, my seven week 'turbo' operations course, is slamming towards completion with a gnarly case study and a big homework set. MTrek has been a fun hobby up 'til now, but the deadline for websites is Wednesday and that means it is pedal to the metal for the operations crew and the webmaster in particular. Yes. That = me. It's also Habitat for Humanity auction week, the last week in other classes, the last week of TMI interviews, and Valentine's Day is Tuesday.
We went visiting in Lansing yesterday, seeing relatives and Clara's Lansing Station. Fun stuff. It is always nice to be back in Lansing and to have the time to take day trips, not that we do.
Finally today, Vice President Dick Cheney shot a fellow millionaire in the butt with birdshot during a quail hunt. (For maximum humoristic effect, reread that sentence at a regular cadence about three times, then stop and think. Repeat as desired.)
All over the place post: hockey game last night was a little disappointing as U-M lost in OT. Today was all about the work, mostly on OMS homework a Ross but then later on MTrek stuff at home.
In the evening Jenelle and I headed to Follies: Apetite for Construction. It was a two hour music, video, and sketch show about life in and around Ross. The clear highlight was a spoof of "Somewhere out There" featuring a Kraft foods recruiter crooning "Somewhere out there, is an intern who loves cheese." The Michigan Theater was packed with MBAs and it was one of those nights when you shake your head and can't believe the talent wandering the halls every day.
Big sports weekend here, strangely enough in football, with Ron English reversing his field and returning to Michigan to take what everyone is assuming must be the defensive coordinator position. And, to a heavy chorus of relieved sighs Scott Loeffler announced he's keeping his recruiting/all-american QB machine in Ann Arbor. And the hockey team split again, again.
The Olympics are on, and though life prevented watching, they are rolling. The speed skating events were in center focus; slow times due to low altitude and high humidity still make for exciting competition. The downhill events begin tomorrow with men's skiing (the downhill) and single luge.
Bahhh bah de dahhh da dahhh dahh! The XX Olympiad opened this afternoon - the Olympic Winter Games of Torino. Constable and I were supposed to be there but instead I went back to grad school and now I have to watch on TV like everybody else, but I'm still stoked. Bring on the theme music, the James Earl Jones voiceovers, Bob Costas waxing poetic, even Jimmy Roberts' nightly video essay. But mostly, make way for the sports. Sliding sports, curling sports, downhill sports, and contact sports. Let amateurs be champions! Let the games begin!
There were some games of a different, non-Olympic sort here this morning - IM basketball. Section 3 managed to field eight able bodies (more than most of our football games) and won two games, albeit one by forfeit. Since then I've been at home; a day passing without a trip to Ross is like an Olympic medal and I pulled it off today. Tonight is TMI hockey night, which will be a change of pace for Jenelle and I. We're not sitting in the student section and that's going to be a new Yost experience.
Here's a sense of what an interview is at Ross: 30 minutes before said interview you start cramming - questions, answers, questions for the company. About 15 minutes before interview you visit the locker, drop off school stuff and pick up jacket and tie. Stop in the men's room for final primping and tie-tying. Then up to Davidson and the interview suite, where you sit patiently in an uncomfortably warm, tense lobby until the recruiter comes out. When you hear your name, you stand up, shake hands, and take the unbelievably long and akward walk down the hall to the tiny interrogation cell where the interview takes place. You walk in, find your chair, open the portfolio, and WHAM it is on.
I had one today with BorgWarner. The interviewer was incredibly disengaged, leaving over half of the interview for questions from me. Then, when my questions got him interested we wound up going almost 25 minutes long and I basically had to say "that is all I have" to end the akward silence. Not a good experience, but the only one so far that has been that way.
The Maine Event trekkers and leaders (most of them, anyway) got together last night at bd's mongolian barbeque. It was a great place to have a reunion, a great way to spend a midweek evening, and a great chance to catch up. Leaders spoke of senioritis, trekkers spoke of let's-get-on-with-it-itis, and everybody laughed out loud when Carrie spoke about her job requirements for the summer.
Tough day today, kind of. Early morning accounting class was a little rough, then a meeting with a web guy about the MTrek website. From there homework, followed by Section 3 lunch at Pizza House. After lunch I headed home for laundry, during which I organized my school binders from last semester. Clothes folded and back to school.
I played basketball again last night and it's all coming (back) together. Even after a heavy dinner and late in the evening I got inside and got some boards, drew the biggest opponent on D, and picked up an assist or two. It is fun to run with this league because our interests are the most similar of any group I've ever played with.
Interview day in a big way. Three half-hour blocks devoted to discussing the future, short and long term. It's impossible to convey much in that amount of time, especially if the questions are scripted by corporate HR, but I stood in and answered questions, recovered from those that didn't get the response I wanted and parked a couple. I'm left feeling that last night's meet and greet might have been a better thing than I realized and that the resume really is the most important document in your life. No real reasonable guess about how this will all shake out, but to some extent the pressure is off because I'm guaranteed one of these positions. Right now there is a clear favorite and three other projects and one that I am, admittedly, chasing for not all the right reasons. Evaluating career trajectory based on a vector that is 30 minutes long is impossible so making decisions tangentional to the future track of things is inevitable.
Super Bowl weekend meant an XL dosage of not a whole lot for me. Friday night hockey game left me with a forehead vein that only a dozen hot wings from BW3's could cure. Nothing like scalp sweat to make you forget the blown calls! A bunch of friends were there and it was really great just to chill and talk MAP and start the weekend.
Saturday was car day; I thought about selling it but didn't although maybe I should have. MTrek meeting in the afternoon and then off to Belleville to wrestle with Ollie, listen to APHC, watch a movie, and do career prep.
Sunday around the house, working and studying and getting interview clothes picked out. Then Super Bowl party at Bistro Bar & Grill with S3 friends, which would have been better if I'd cared more about the teams or the outcome. Truth be told I was watching the game thinking about the defection and disintegration of the coaching realm down at Schembechler Hall. Loyal Lloyd Carr's Loyal-ettes are taking over; Mike DeBord moves back to offensive coordinator while standout defensive backs coach and aspiring d-coordinator Ron English gets shuffled out in favor of Jim Hermann. QB guru/recruiting ace Scott Loeffler is interviewing at New England this week and I fear he may be on his way east. I fear even more that Michigan may be on its way south - metaphorically speaking, not bowliforically speaking.
Graphics make everything easier to understand. I'm always blogging about how busy the MBA life is. Let's reconcile those two positions with my February 2006 Outlook calendar:
Over the past semester I've been slowly learning the life of the evening college student. My OMS605 operations class has a bunch of evening MBAs in it and I really don't know how they manage... they arrive in Ann Arbor dressed for work, toting ID badges and safety glasses and take-out food. They spend their weekends slaving over the school work that we do during the day all week, and somehow manage the stress and the drive time for years to make it happen. My cousin Scott is up to the same thing: professional engineer by day, engineering student by night, and I am not sure how it is possible to keep that up for a sustained amount of time.
Got my day off to an active start with a rousing best-of-three hoops tourney with some other MBAs over at the IM building. It's amazing how balanced ten randomly divided people can be; the total sum of our victory (in the series) was three points. Can't get much better competition than that.
MAP projects were announced today. I got - incredibly - my first choice and what looks to be a sweet team. Two TMIers whom I really enjoy are on the team along with two other MBAs. Our project is "Strategy to reduce energy consumption and factory emissions, improving power plant energy effiency" for a major cogen power facility at a Pratt & Whitney plant in East Hartford, CT. Should be great - I'm excited to be saving the environment for a change instead of sending it to hell in a single-hulled, twin-diesel powered, totally frivolous handbasket.
Ordinarily I'm a pretty healthy eater - I like a salad and tofu szechuan noodles more than your average guy, but I have a soft spot (that'll be funny in about six words) spot for a good burger. So when I found out totally by mistake that a CheeburgerCheeburger had opened halfway between here and UHS it was only a matter of time before I found a reason to dig into a giant garbage burger with a milkshake on the side. Yesterday that reason presented itself in the form of a UHS basketball game. After class I headed up to watch Jenelle's charges take the court against their Ferndale High peers. It was fun to watch but readily apparent that so-called 'street ball' relies heavily on the three and less on fundamentals. How about a bounce pass to the post, boys? That said, I nearly saw a ninth grader dunk on a breakaway... insane and nothing less.
posted at 8:22 PM - comments
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Up before dawn. Legs sore from hoops, arms damaged from one diving play. Shake a leg, bus is on its way. Southbound Commuter/to Crisler Arena. Pull the cord, out the door. East U smells like East Quad breakfast; potatoes and sausage. Hunh. Breakfast. Into Davidson, visit the locker, hang the coat, stow the gloves. Back upstairs past the library down the stairs to E1540, ACC 552. Sit sit sit learn learn learn BREAK! cranberryjuicepastryshouldhaveeatenathomemaybetomorrow learn learn learn sit sit sit. End of class social time. Kresge 4 study time. Interview prep? INTERVIEW PREP. Big time stuff. Who's who? Who are you? Manufacturing, supply chain, third party logistics. Test process, specials process. Recruiting process drags on, Winamp plays on, day drags on.
posted at 1:11 PM - comments