It's a new record for earliest Sunday post, but we're hanging out in Ross' Courtyard Lab waiting for the whole crew to assemble and head to Comerica Park for a Tigers game. Hooray the Tigers - they were the only team to win in yesterday's Detroit Sports Trifecta (defecta?).
Friday's MTrek Leader Training went fine; catering was ontime and well-received and binders looked sharp and required almost no effort whatsoever. By the end of the day I think everybody assembled was seriously considering dropping out of MTrek so they wouldn't have to endure another 90 minutes in windowless W0750. In the evening we crossed under US-23 into Ypsilanti, where we visited quaint and quiet Depot Town before meeting up with RRHS alum Heidi Cole and hitting Mexican hotspot Tios and piano bar 13 before calling it a night.
Saturday was something of a cleaning/packing/sorting day; I made big strides towards my impending departure but mostly because of Jenelle's help. The Pistons and Red Wings both lost in playoff action, which was a downer, but we had hash browns, bacon, and eggs for dinner which was an upper.
Not too much to report. I spent several more hours in the cubicle on Wyly 3 wrapping up the data-gathering phase of AOV. When I'd gotten what I needed it was time to head down to the Computer Medic to drop off my troubled HP. Now I'm debating the plan for action; a Dominick's "sangria! where have you been all my MAP?" happy hour didn't exactly pan out and I'm not really excited about the crowded last edition of 'skeepers for the semester.
The fact that MBA1 ends, technically, tomorrow is scary stuff. It feels like just a moment ago that I was thinking I was halfway done with grad school, now I'm halfway through Ross and I get the sense next year may cruise even faster.
You never know how a project is going to end - sometimes there's a mad rush, other times the team members go their separate ways and finish remotely, and sometimes you get a text message at 6:48 AM that says:
The rabbit is down the hatch. Abort the rendezvous. REPEAT: The rabbit is down the hatch. Abort the rendezvous. I'm picking it up at noon.
And that was MAP.
Yesterday was free scoop day at Ben & Jerry's. I had to go downtown anyway to pick up a couple of gifts for our sponsors and so I was really looking forward to a gratis scoop of cherry garcia. Instead there was a line down the sidewalk for half a block that was barely moving. No free ice cream for me.
Today is, I would say, the climax of the Art on View website project that has been on the burner for some five months. I'm actually up in the development offices, on a workstation, mining the database of the school's art. At this moment I'm roughly halfway done with the digitizing, after which it is just a formality to have it ready. A monkey with average motor skills could do this part of the job, but it is gratifying to see it all filled in and completed.
I'm at Ross; it seems an eternity since I've been here, but I am sitting along the wall in Kresge doing my best BBA impression on the lab computers. It turns out that today is the day when my portable-computing/power-supply issue came to a head, ie my power to my laptop crapped out and I'm stuck with a few precious moments of use from hours of charging. With that in mind, I dumped MAP and MTrek files onto my jump drive and camped out. It isn't so bad; I miss WinAMP tunes and lumbar support but I've got the essentials and can still get to email.
The rest of my thoughts about yesterday's race: sports are meant to be fun. I feel like I'm a competitive person, but I was raised to embrace participation above all. The role of a skiier, sailor, or bicycler is to have fun and spread the experience to others. This is a principal tenet of the KDBFOYA and one to which I adhere as much as possible. So, when I showed up to register for a local training race and got "What, are you too lazy to join the club?" and "hey - looks like we've got a national champ or an Olympian with us" from the folks at the desk I was mad. Why are cyclists such arrogant asses? In Sarasota it was much the same and apparently there is plenty of unpleasantness to spread around. With skiing, you ride a lift and get small talk or at the very worst silence. Boating is the most social 'sport' around, even if it does sometimes slip into a show and tell of sorts. But cycling is different: speak at your own risk, lest a legion of sarcasm and disapproval reign down on you. What's hard is that it doesn't have to be this way... it's happier for everyone if everyone is happy; save the starting line animosity for le Tour.
Hour for hour MAP is clearly the biggest thing going on lately, but it doesn't make for good blogging. Day trips do, though, so here's a rundown of our day trip to Toledo on Friday.
We started off by driving along the Toledo River, past the zoo and through the towns of Maumee and Perrysburg, in search (in vain) of a Quiznos. It was cool to get a sense for the size of the metro area and see the 'burbs that are the growing part of this area. Then we hit the zoo... lunch was first up, eaten along the serengeti, as it were, with giraffes and impalas grazing a few dozen yards away. After lunch we set off through the polar bear, wolf, and bald eagle exhibits, heading across a pedestrian bridge to the balance of the zoo. There were a number of aviaries, then big cats, big apes, and big african animals.
When the zoo closed we drove to the art museum, swinging through downtown to see the city. By the time we got into the museum it seemed like rain was imminent, so we headed outside to take in the sculpture gardens before the weather arrived. Back inside, we cruised throught the excellent galleries. Toledo really has something to be proud of in its museum; the most famous artists' works are on display, along with a huge number of Dutch landscapes which really provide a theme. There are also antiquities gallore and a few European rooms, which provide variety. The central space was showing a Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibition, which we loved. Tiffany's incredible talents showed through in each medium he attempted... glass and metal and drawings and paintings and ceramic, each piece more beatiful than the previous. It was also open until 10, so we had a full evening to explore and enjoy before heading back to Michigan.
Saturday was lazy in and around Ann Arbor. We had a football-style dinner and then hit the town: Dave helped fix my derailleurs and then we headed up the hill to Casa Dominick's. Ryan met us there for some sangria - a chance to meet Jenelle and perhaps a last chance for us to touch base before we arrive in Pennsylvania. Ryan had to leave early, but the three of us stayed until close, watching the weather and enjoying the company. Then on the way home we hit btb for quesadillas and nachos.
Sunday morning I got up early to ride in a training race in Ann Arbor. It wasn't much fun, truth be told, and I didn't do that great. (More some other day.) Back at home we cooked up an awesome brunch, then said bon voyage and headed north by west to the outlet mall to get a few clothing essentials for the summer. Now it's now, pasties for dinner and the last few hours of a great weekend.
Wheeew. We presented to the big boss man this afternoon, following a day of stress and jet engine tours in CT. All told it went well; conflicting advice from advisors in Michigan hung us out to dry on a few presentation protocol points, but it was a success overall. And however the presentation went, it was awesome to stand, at floor level, next to a static test version of the PW4000 that powers Boeing's 777. The complexity and size of this massive machine is really too much to convey - Doug is working to improve the production of this monster over the summer and I wish him luck. It looks like a bowl of spaghetti with labels on every noodle and nothing less.
Back to it in East Hartford; we arrived first class on the shuttle from DTW this morning, grabbed some lunch, and gave a run-through for the project sponsors at Pratt & Whitney. It went amazingly well; we walked out with just a few hours worth of changes. Unfortunately our tour plans for the assembly facility fell through, but we should have time to take it easy tomorrow before our presentation to see some engines at East Hartford.
Our faculty presentation was yesterday and I really have no idea how it went. The advisors seemed fine with things, had lots of questions, but didn't give much in the way of an indication of pleasure or displeasure with the preceedings. Afterwards we called it a day and took the afternoon off...a pleasant change from Monday. It was a beautiful day but I really just vegetated for the balance of the day.
Right now, it has been about a 13 hour MAP day and the end is now coming into view. Oh sure, there was a lunch pause (filled with MAP work) and an MTrek dinner meeting at Red Hawk and there's going to be a busride home, but other than that I've been up to my eyeballs in powerpoint and the myriad minutia that make a deck really good. To quote MAP012, "we're going from compliance to excellence." To quote what I'm sure Pratt & Whitney is going to say, "man this sucks." Going from compliance to excellence is a lot like fighting terrorism - it's hard! We're gonna hafta, you know, work late. We might even come in on Saturdays, if that's what it takes. But I digress.
posted at 11:03 PM - comments
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Quiche seems like a nice Easter meal; eggs and bacon and spinach and red onions baked into a pie crust. Well, that's what I had. I even tried a slice with Cholula (hot sauce) on it, which was very tasty. Other than that it has been quiet. I expected this to be the busiest of weekends but it hasn't been, strangely enough. Last night I went out of doors and waxed the truck while listening to APHC, becoming (I imagine) the first person in quite a little while to combine those two activities. Unfortunately the weather turned cold and springy so I'm pretty much confined indoors anyway, meaning there's still some preparation for presentations going on solo. With Jenelle gone, the weather dreary, and everything in the universe being closed for Easter, it is turning into a kind of surreal day.
I've been reading a bestselling business book, The World is Flat, and doing some thinking about the lessons Thomas L Friedman has for us. They aren't really lessons, per se, more like observations. In many regards, Friedman is like Seinfeld - just a series of "shallow, fairly-obvious observations" - on business. The tipping point for Friedman is his amazing access to companies and people. His (Friedman's) insights are not earth shattering or even unique and most, by his own admission, aren't even his...rather they stem from conversations with the people who have actually flattened the world. But the idea of 'flattening' as a buzzword was proposed by Friedman and it seems to have caught on. The problem with calling the world 'flat' is that flat is an inherently two dimensional descriptor. Yet so many of the myriad dimensions that make up the world (social, political, cultural, and ethereal traits) undefine virtually every person from this planar universe that Friedman proposes.
I was sleepy this morning and that curtailed my first ride of the season. Not to be lame I headed out anyway, rode six quick miles, determined something was wonky with my forward derailleur, and called it. There was a mid-day MAP meeting followed by an "oh yeah I almost forgot the bus isn't actually that fun" stop at the post-spring practice Bus. Then to NAME for some summer internet research and a few more MAP changes, now blogging and home for dinner, waxing, reading on the balcony, and who knows what else?
posted at 5:57 PM - comments
Friday, April 14, 2006
Friday, MAP day. We made good progress on our slideshow, with a break in the midday to finalize TMI deliverables. I spaced on grabbing lunch this morning so I ate off a cart - just as Robin would do - with curry of the day, rice, and a free samosa. There's something to be said for food from carts... it was delicious. After 'school' I took off and got my haircut then headed out. Jenelle's headed north for spring break but somebody needs to look in on Oliver, so I'm laying low with the cat. In point of fact I'm totally spent and looking forward to a late dinner, reading some of "The World is Flat," and maybe taking in a movie.
posted at 8:10 PM - comments
Thursday, April 13, 2006
It feels like Friday - our PPT deck and my motivation are on diverging vectors. The stack is coming together and looking good while I am mostly interested in heading out and feeling good. We've been in the Board Room today, which is a silly place for four people to try and collaborate, but it is nice to have leather chairs and a projector and quiet all at the same time. Tonight is a "Sangria!! Where have you been all winter?" Alternate Happy Hour at Casa Dominick's which will be preceded by a Best of Ann Arbor Blimpie Burger from Krazy Jim's - all in the name of celebrating Jenelle's spring break which started at noon.
Just for fun, a picture of what the end of school would look like without MAP:
So much of what we do is dependent on others. This feels especially true today, when I needed to really get things done on MAP and TMI project documents and none of my sources came through. Now I'm faced with the specter of what tomorrow might look like, an even more frantic frenzy of PPT slides and too-hastily written summaries of too-hastily conducted analyses.
TMI SAB's year wrapped last night with dinner at Pizza House. It's something of a miracle how much free food floats around - I ate dinner and took pizza home for Jenelle's dinner, all in the name of 15 minutes' rehash of existing items. I think the board has done good things this year but is actually just reaching a corner to turn towards real effectiveness and influence on the caliber of the program.
I played basketball last night, one of the last evenings in the CCRB with this year's MBA2s. Shorter games were more fun, but my too-long-to-mention hiatus cut into my personal enjoyment. A person can only miss so many short jumpers before they get frustrated. I'm also realizing that the onus may be on me to recreate this twice-weekly event next year as if I didn't have anything else going on.
There is usually a big to-do about blogging in the face of danger, and today's post was blogged in the face of danger and I'm making a big deal out of it. In a true throwback to my undergrad days at good ol' Tinderbox State, aka Webb Institute, we are having a fire alarm. The subtle difference between a Ross fire alarm and a Webb fire alarm is the timing: in Glen Cove the fire department could expect to wake up at around 4:37 AM at least once a semester, AAFD was probably just wrapping up lunch dishes when this call came in. Sigh. So much excitement... at least I got to have lunch outside.
Not much else to report, sadly. I guess MAP is crowding our days with 'final' this and 'last' that. We're cranking out drafts of report sections and starting to concoct a winning presentation. Arrangements have been made for our flights east for the presentation and then back west afterwards, with time in between for tour of jet engine assembly.
Finally, some advice. Don't eat cold pad thai with only a fork. It just isn't fun.
We ate at Zingerman's Roadhouse Friday evening to wrap up GBR. I was not impressed. The deli, yes. The Roadhouse, no. Don't get me wrong, I thought my sandwich and salad and cocktail were good, but low on the value scale and not extraordinary. Saturday I dropped off the truck for an oil change and tire rotation then Jenelle and I went to Michigan's largest taxidermist: Cabella's. Cabella's is an outdoor store on an IKEA scale, chock full of good camping gear and incredible stuffed animals. There were fish swimming in ponds and trucks and boats and roasted almonds and a huge freshwater aquarium, which we wandered around and took in the spectacle and bought a new micra. In the evening we listened to APHC, made pad thai, country bread, and had a great time being relatively lazy.
Despite the frost on the grass Sunday morning we went to Runway Industrial Park in Ann Arbor to watch Dave ride in a 30 km training criterium. It was sunny and calm, and the whir of chains and the clicks of pedals made me want to get up early in two weeks and ride in the C-group just like back in the day. Now it's the afternoon and I'm in a MAP meeting in Kresge while Jenelle researches from the courtyard lab.
Here's what I know: admits love MTrek. We were by far the most popular of the 'Meet the Clubs' clubs, with three Core Team members usually engaged with three different prospectives. We are back at it again today during the "Distinctive Programs Panels" which give us five minutes of face time with the entire group of admits.
Last night's section 3 host/hostees party was pretty fun. Ian manned the grill and Rachel kept bringing out pasta salad, so everybody ate and stayed (sorta) warm. I remember this being an exhausting, intimidating experience last year but my memories of this year will be of bonding with section friends who have been out of touch since the end of Winter A. Tonight Jenelle joins the party as we head to Zingerman's Roadhouse with a group of about 25. It will be loud, it will be fun, it will be great to be a Michigan Wolverine.
On that note, some thoughts about schools and admissions. My hostees are both TMI-oriented folks, both (I think) pretty ready to send in their deposit checks, and both fairly introspective about the decision. They also both said that they thought Michigan did a much better job of courting perspectives than did, say, Kellogg's MMM (say "triple M," a manufacturing MBA degree) program. One said he got five phone calls in three days from U-M people wanting to help, fired up about the school and wishing him well. That's what I'm talking about... people love it here. You come in, you watch a football game, you have a world-class experience, and then you wind up so proud of your school that you can't help calling and emailing and offering tours of your apartment because everybody needs to come here.
Couple of Ross notes... everybody is jammed into what is left of our facility and having a good time. Admits are coming in slowly over the course of the day, but the first notable arrival of the day was a D6 Cat dozer that has kicked off the digging and diesel fuels and noise.
Yesterday I took some time and went to a 'Future of Ross' lunch thing; students got to air their grievances and hopefully suggest some new directions for the school. One of the themes that came up was rankings - Michigan has slid out of the top ten in the USNews & World Report standings. I don't buy in too much, but I do feel slighted when the school doesn't continue its upward trajectory. The real problem is the lack of transparency, because we can't see what went wrong overall while four of our subject areas were ranked in the top five nationally. It's also frustrating in the sense that there's not much you can do to actually affect these things, despite working to improve the things about the community that you believe in. I think USN&WR would rank MTrek at the top of all MBA outdoor adventure programs, so that's what is important to me.
Last year at this time I was gearing up for Go Blue! Rendezvous, Ross' weekend for admitted MBAs in the fall class. This year at this time I'm doing the same - the buzz for the admits is a direct side-effect of the buzz around the halls as we get ready. This year I've played a (tiny, suggestive) role in forming things and I think it will be even better: the band will play, the lab computers will be logged in and ready for email, and student-hosted dinners are encouraged. My two charges, Nick and Rohit, are arriving on Thursday in the afternoon and that is like the end of my week.
Today has been a very productive, nay the most productive, MAP day so far. We got a much-needed breakdown of all the data recorded in the powerhouse in 2005 on a daily basis, which is the second or perhaps third file we should have gotten. Better late than never, and I'm charging ahead with an engineering analysis that is quasi-due tomorrow at close of business.
Last night I popped down to B-dubs for the first half of the basketball game and was talking with some friends about Hill House. I was happy to find that I am not the only MBA1 who hasn't been to a Hill House party. We were talking about it being a frat party for grownups and how that was not any more appealing this evening than it was some evening five years ago when we were at the frat party age. MBAs are strange folks; this whole experience varies from 'great learning' to 'last hurrah at life' to 'another step along the way' depending on who you talk to and when.
Kind of a weird four-day hiatus at Browncow... but that's good news for today's post, which will seem fresh and exciting given the condensed content.
In the realm of acronyms, Friday was a real winner: TMI's IAB invited SAB MBAs and EGLs to the NCMS for a planning retreat. In English, I spent the day with TMI's industry advisors and a few other students planning the future of TMI. It was great to have a say, great to hear about what industry wants from this institute, and great to have such distinguished face time with people who are keen to hire TMI-ers. It's rare that you get a chance to stand up, alone, in front of 20 potential employers and make a presentation on behalf of their peers, but that is exactly what happened Friday afternoon. Plus I made a couple of interesting connections in the transportation manufacturing industry at lunch and I got to take home a plate of cheesecake squares topped with mandarin oranges. A terrific day, I'd say.
Saturday and Sunday were pretty lazy. I dislike the first weekend in April because of the whole DST switch, but we fought it off I suppose. Saturday we joined some classmates at b-dubs in Ann Arbor to watch hoops, which were depressingly boring. So, we skated a little early and checked out 'Walk the Line.' It was good but sad in the very same sense as 'Ray' was a year ago. In point of fact, had they not been biopics I think the authors would have sued themselves for copyright infringement.
Sunday we got up and had eggs and toast for breakfast, did some spring cleaning, and then headed out to the Arb for a walk along the Huron and then back towards home along the highlands. When I move out of Huron Towers I'm quite confident that I'll wish the Arb figured more prominently in life there, but c'est la vie. In the evening we huddled around some work and some mini pizzas and were boring in the face of a busy week full of deliverables and meetings.