Jenelle and I both worked at UHS today; I dug back into the TMI Spotlight! presentation that Ryan and I started an ice age ago while Jenelle went to meetings and decorated her classroom. Towards the end of the day we worked together on the later, creating a couple of cool bulletin boards and labeling virtually every 'thing' in her room with its Spanish noun. We stopped at IKEA on the way home, largely because it is on the way home now, and picked up some storage solutions for my closet, overrun with clothes since late-summer generousity stuffed my apartment to overflowing.
posted at 10:26 PM - comments
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Holy flip. I am at home, poaching internet and setting up for the semester ahead, and my heart is literally pounding. Here's why:
James Skinner - Chairman & CEO, McDonald's Corp.
Robert A Lutz - Vice Chairman, General Motors Corp.
John H Tyson - Chairman & CEO, Tyson Foods
Gary C Kelly - Chairman & CEO, Southwest Airlines
D T Kapur - President, International Truck & Engine Corp.
Kenneth Trammell - Exec Vice President and CFO, Tenneco Automotive Corp.
It sounds like a 'Who's Who?' lineup of executives for companies facing paradigm shifts, and it is. Plus, they are coming to speak in MO611 during Fall A. Oh yeah, almost forgot... I'm in the class. This is the stuff of b-school legend, and a prime opportunity to hear and see and meet and greet some of the biggest players in industry. Mr. Lutz, it is a pleasure. Say, what's the deal with Pontiac? When can I buy a diesel wagon in the US? Do you have any jobs, you know, kicking around over there by the river?
A picture, as means of celebration of my good fortune.
A dreary, dreary day in the Grand Traverse region and a cancellation meant that we wound up killing some time between vendor meetings on Friday morning in an outlet mall. The good news is that we got some cakes to taste and take home, even if the two vendors we got them from probably won't make the final cut. In the afternoon rain, up to the club and an evening with family.
Saturday started out poised to follow Friday's weather trend but made a late save. After a walk around the marina and park, we had lunch, Buzz Aldrins, and then decided to go for a ride in the boat up to Gladstone. On the way back, it got dead calm and the sun tried to come out so we 'pulled over' and did a little waterskiing - when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Back on the patio, we delegated dinner duties to Robin, who created/concocted a wonderful Thai meal that wrapped up with several southeast-Asian fruits over sticky rice and coconut milk. Sunday we took it easy, did some Rapid River visiting and hit the Dairy Flo before meeting the fam at Maywood for a trip down proverbial memory lane. We poked around the house and were absolutely amazed at the decreasing water level (or increase in beach). Then, in a long-standing but also long-unobserved tradition, we went to Peninsula Point for a late summer photo op at the lighthouse. We found some half-buring coals and made dinner, moving quickly in an effort to move the party back to Escanaba where skiing and Dad's birthday celebration waited. Back on Stonington, later, Bill and Sharon arrived from Bristol, TN, with a NASCAR-sized barrel of energy after a long day in the car and an even bigger-sized barrel of swag.
Monday was the last day of our little trip, so we started early with a final round of waterskiing in Escanaba, in which Jenelle learned to ski and there was much rejoicing. We spent the morning and then signed off, heading to RRHS for another trip down another Memory Lane. We spent the afternoon on Stonington and jumped into the car for a late night trip south to Michigan's other peninsula.
Another day of vendor visits in the Grand Traverse region. Today, a florist, a venue, a caterer, and a disc jockey service all came into the hot seat. The first three survived - the caterer, Silver Tree Deli, even turned in an unexpectedly good showing - and the last fell pretty hard on its face. You can almost never tell who will surprise you with what on the upper end of the wedding planning spectrum; Silver Tree appears to be very much a boutique, resort town caterer but now sounds like they may put together a very competitive package for rehearsal dinner. The flipside is that a little lower in the market, the more budget-minded players can be quite a spectacle. Our DJ interview today is a case-in-point. We met at a couples' house, heard their system, heard Mr. DJ 'mix' some songs, and heard Mrs. DJ excitedly explain that they bring a limbo stick in the trailer to every engagement. (Fantastic!) We sat in their living room hoping to move quickly through the speil about soft music during dinner and how Enya's 'Watermark' was typical of what they would like to play. Great service, I'm sure, but not really our style and, as much as we love Enya, not really anybody's style in 2007. Tomorrow is Cake Day and it is hard not to get excited about that, even if some of the cakerers are bigger wildcards than some of the DJs.
posted at 10:35 PM - comments
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Jenelle and I are in northern Michigan - Traverse City in particular - visiting wedding vendors and trying to sort things out. In this case, sorting means trying like crazy to discern what the advertised price includes and how much beyond that point we are responsible for covering, little things like washing dishes and things to drink from. There's also a never-ending dialogue about what we need and what we want; ivory china versus white china doesn't seem like a big deal at first but it becomes an issue upon a pile of others which, in total, make decisions very difficult. Compounding the process' complexity is a time factor that varies between vendors by multiples of three to five. Comparing apples to apples is easy enough, but when some of the proverbial apples aren't quite ripe yet the thing gets tricky. Ultimately, though, it really is pretty fun putting our ideas together and trying to make everything the best it can be.
posted at 10:23 PM - comments
Monday, August 21, 2006
Hokay... speed blogging is great. I disseminated a whole lot of information, got across the general gist of a week's worth of activities, and even brought in some visuals. The problem is that there was much glazing over of important, intrinsic components of each experience, like....
1  There's nothing included in the report on Fallingwater about Wright's complete arrogance about the size - current or evolutionary - of humans. FLW was a man of limited stature: most accounts place him at five feet, six inches tall and pictures indicate he didn't fill out even this small frame. This leaves a six-foot tall person with broad shoulders struggling to find appropriate spaces within one of his houses. I wasn't claustrophobic, thanks to windows and good air movement, but there are doors in this (inflation-adjusted) $3,000,000 home that I had to turn sideways to navigate.
2  I didn't mention the weather on the michigan trek or its adopted nickname, "the norbert." The weather was perfect. Not the kind of blue-sky, mid-eighties days that everybody thinks of as perfect, but actually perfect for each days' activity. Sailing? Oh yes, partly cloudy and a good breeze. Cycling? Mostly cloudy passing to mostly sunny later for swimming and wine tours. Hiking? Overcast with a slight breeze. Crystal clear sunsets each day and brilliant dark skiies each night, dotted with some incredibly bright stars and trailblazing shooting stars. Now for the rest of the story. On Wednesday, gathered around the campfire sharing past lives, Terri quipped that Norberto should give MTrek a heap of money and get the naming rights to these trips, as in "which Norbert did you go on?" It became something of an instant legend.
3  A picture of a 'classic' wagon probably doesn't tug many heart strings, but there is just something about the stormin' wagon concept that gets me fired up. Why can't practical and high perf meet? Who says you can't put spinners and two-tone paint on a 1980's-vintage people hauler? I say that if you tint out the greenhouse, find some mag rims, and slam the whole thing you can roll with any of the muscle on Woodward. It's rear drive, got great weight distribution and can actually carry all the kit that the Mustang drivers got their wives to throw in the back of their Explorers.
This has to be one of the longest hiatuses (hiatii?) in the modern history of browncow.(tripod.)com, but there is much to report:
The day after last time was the last day of my TMI summer internship; it was pretty uneventful but we got cleared up and wined and dined one last time and then were on the road after lunch. Jenelle and I drove west, into a rare corner of PA that isn't on the beaten track. Saturday morning we got up and drove south to Bear Run to visit Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater.
This famous house overhangs a pair of waterfalls in the middle of nowhere... it has been on my list since I drew it for art class in high school. The overhangs, canitlevered balconies, and vertical windows make a fabulous example of Wright's linear, pre-modern style. We had a great tour and then made hay for Ann Arbor.
On Sunday there was an initial pre-flurry of michigan trek activity, with new friends and coleaders going shopping and getting ready for a weeklong trip around the state with some new MBAs. Monday morning we saddled up in our rented vans and went north to Traverse City. That evening we sailed aboard the tall ship Manitou and got to know each other around the fire. Tuesday was cycling (20 miles on a cruiser tandem for me and Abishek!) in the AM, quesadillas, and winery/Lake Michigan beach in the PM. Wednesday was a tour day, with lunch under the Mackinaw Bridge and some sight-seeing in Mackinac City before driving up to Paradise. Thursday we hit the trail connecting the Upper and Lower Tahquamenon Falls. The 13 of us walked eight miles and saw both falls before jumping back in the vans for a sleepy ride south to PH Hoeft State Park near Rogers City on Lake Huron. That night, we ate together in the city and stayed up late socializing on the beach under incredibly bright stars. Our last day was spent canoeing the Sturgeon River - dodging the riverbanks and enjoying the swift current. Our last stop was for dinner in Flint, where a tired group bid temporary farewells.
Back in southeast Michigan with a weekend ahead of us, Jenelle and I drew up a plan to take in one of the biggest spectacles in the state: the Woodward Dream Cruise. First we did a little pre-inquiry work regarding wedding registries and shoe styles, but then we found a lucky parking spot and spent a few hours wandering the sidewalks and taking in the spectacle.
Sunday we did some more wedding stuff and made a great stirfry, swam in the pool at Huron Towers, and did precious little else.
posted at 12:00 AM - comments
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Incredibly, our last full day at Knoll. In the morning we had a final development meeting regarding the auto-bidding application Ryan and I suggested and got approved. Then in the afternoon, a regal send off with ice cream and a parting gift, Knoll's Copeland Light. The receiving line reminded me of Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain for some reason, with people I didn't know lining the quay to welcome us and congratulate us even though twenty minutes prior they wouldn't have had the foggiest clue as to why. As the day wound down there was packing: files renamed and purged and indexed at work, a summer's detritus cleaned and folded and purged and packed at home.
posted at 9:23 PM - comments
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
The day of our final presentation came and went and we passed with flying colors. Over the past seven weeks we turned the corner from "which of these should we do?" to "when should we do these?" The President and CEO offered to send notes to our mothers, the VP of Operations asked good questions and asked for more advice, and the other attendants contributed supporting ideas. Afterwards we had an exit interview and then dinner at the Buckeye Tavern with our managers. In the evening, we started packing and getting ready for our forthcoming departure from Macunge... a summer of fun in Pennsylvania nearly history.
posted at 9:56 PM - comments
On the last Monday of our summer at Knoll and the last evening of Mom's visit to Pennsylvania, we stepped out and went to Bethlehem for Musikfest - America's music festival. It was a big old thing, with many a platz to visit. We strolled around the grounds and found two things that were rather appealing: a SoCo frozen hurricane trailer (!) and a Slovenian polka punk rock band highly reminiscent of Gogol Bordello. We really enjoyed their set then wandered the tents; Mom left Jenelle and I a great host gift purchased on the grounds (a didgeridoo) and we all found a dinner snack before settling in for a few songs from a supposedly Celtic rock band who were not Celtic but rather quite terrible.
Today at work the end seemed ever closer. Despite a productive morning, in the afternoon we weren't terribly busy and even spent several minutes choosing ice cream flavors for a social in our honor on Thursday. One previously unimpressed advisors phoned in gushing reviews and we bound Knoll's copy of the report, all 71 pages of it.
Today is the last Monday of the summer at Knoll. I cannot, honestly, believe how fast these 13 weeks have gone, but this morning the pace of life was reinforced when the first of our final presentations came and went in the blink of an eye. Nobody said much - a disappointment - but they did seem interested in what we were advocating. I'm sure that on Wednesday, with execs in the room, there will be quite a bit more discussion.
Yesterday was a fairly laid back day in Macungie. Das Awkscht Fest (a car show, incredibly) was the major event in town, so we trekked over to see the sights. There was a numbing display of cars on hand, so we kept in short and sweet and saved our afternoon for a trip to the very cool and previously undiscovered Rodale Fitness Park, where we threw the disc. In the evening we talked about wedding stuff and had fajitas and margarita mousse and watched some Harry Potter.
We motored south this morning to PHL to pick up Mom at 11:55. Along the way CarTalk (with the frog/banker/Patty Whack joke) and breakfast, then into Philadelphia to check out museums. The first one we tried was the Institute of Contemporary Art, which we found quite closed. In its stead we walked around Penn's campus, but soon needed a new diversion so we went to the Philly Art Museum. Despite the impressive facade and enormous volume this really wasn't a super art museum... a letdown to be sure. We didn't let that slow down our day; we checked out Calder sculptures along Ben Franklin Parkway then sat along the fountain in Logan Square while wedding parties gathered to the right and left of us for photos. Then, in the evening, we went over to the historic district to walk around, see Elfreth's Alley - 'Our Nation's Oldest Residential Street', and have dinner at the City Tavern. By the time we were full from dinner it just felt like time to head home, so without a real decision by anyone we made our way along the Schuykill and north to the Lehigh Valley.
posted at 11:21 PM - comments
Friday, August 04, 2006
I got a little discombobulated in the blogging; yesterday I somehow neglected to mention that we spent the evening in Allentown at the Art Museum taking in an Andy Warhol exhibit that included some of the darker works that sometimes get brushed over in the multi-colored commercial sensibilities of pop art. For dinner we went to a true, shiny metal and bright neon east coast diner. I had a rueben and Jenelle an open-faced sandwich. What a fantasticly good meal!
Today we finally made it up to the Lehigh Valley Velodrome for a professional, short-track, banked-corner cycling race. The velodrome is just over four miles from our current front door in Macungie, but due to other travels and bad weather this is the first race we've seen. It was a great night to watch some very, very good riders circle the 1/3 km track in a Madison - a race where teams of two riders trade off every few laps, something akin to short-track speed skating relays.
Over the past year or so Jenelle and I have, from time to time, entertained guests in our home. We took that young trend up a notch last night by inviting the Davids from Knoll for dinner. Jenelle made salad and roasted asparagus, I made pasta sauces (white and red), and Ryan grilled chicken for a smorgasbord that we unfurled across the apartment. In typical entertaining fashion there was a small snafu when the A/C conked out... it only reach 84 in the apartment and we were able to soldier on.
Workdays are filled with presentation prepwork and report writing. It feels good to be ahead of the curve but, to be honest, I am kind of ready to just be done with the project and back to life as normal.
It's the first parts of August, but I'm kinda starting to freak about jobs. That's normal MBA stuff, I think, but there are still months between me and my future job, which means that there will be more stress coming. Part of the reason for my stressing is that I got a not very helpful email from one of our TMI advisors, who kinda bummed me out. His review comments were so editorial in nature and ungrounded in the drafts he'd read that it caused me to doubt the caliber of the work the Knoll TMI team has cranked out. Self-confidence is one thing, but faced with a salty old character who offers no hint of approval over one's accomplishments, it is hard to keep one's chin up. Maybe it's the heat, maybe it's my readiness to be back in Ann Arbor, but it is getting hard to really concentrate on the project - I'm ready. We heard today of a TMI team whose "project's feasibility depends on the next three days" and man am I ever happy not to be in that position.
posted at 10:01 PM - comments