b 4.0
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Something went wrong on the way home from Houston, despite a great day in the office with prospective employer #B, and I found myself quite sick indeed yesterday. Jenelle coaxed me back to health and now I'm semi-back in the saddle. I learned two things during my downtime: when you pay through the nose for something you aren't very likely to miss it, no matter how sick you are, and valuation is no fun when you feel nauseous. Being down for an entire day - a fully scheduled one - now means that the rest of the week is a double scramble, but I'm hoping to get on track by tomorrow.
Monday, January 29, 2007
I'm awake and blogging from a hotel in Houston. I ate breakfast and have been scanning the morning's news (sans WSJ... why do hotels insist on exclusive USAToday distribution?) ahead of my interview/day/thing. Last night I had dinner with Merritt and his girlfriend, Langka, whose spelling I have probably massacred. It was a fun meal; always nice to catch up and see what has changed and what has stayed the same. They also helped with some insight about Houston and recommended a few movies. Merritt and I were always pretty compatible in terms of films, so a surprising windfall from an all-around pleasant dinner.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Weeks go by so fast! Yesterday's festivities included a field trip to GEMA - the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance. This is a joint venture engine maker who builds a few hundred thousand four cylinders each year. It was also interesting to see lean manufacturing principles used on a lower-value product than a $65,000 Cadillac or $45,000 F-150; it felt that the planners had a been a little less fanatical about inventory reduction. Piles of engines (nearly 2000 by my estimation) were awaiting the ramp-up of a forthcoming car model, which does not bode well for the "Inventory" line on the balance sheet.

Ross Habitat for Humanity Builders' new Exec Board was meeting in the early afternoon, so I took it upon myself to share the role of VP - Operations with the new VP - Operations and to help the 2007-8 board get ready for the big auction. Then I raced out of there to Ross, where Iain Roberts from IDEO's Chicago office was giving a talk for the Yaffe Center (no idea what this center even is, sorry) about persuasive marketing through great industrial design. Color me interested. In the evening Jenelle came over and we made brats, coleslaw, and then ate both. We went to the hockey game, too, where Michigan romped and Ferris State couldn't do much to slow things down.

Today has been mostly about sports, a little about packing, and a little about Robin experience great convergence. I played MBA intersection basketball in the morning, which was fun doubled with a big win by Section 3. Ryan invited us to watch the MagnUM ultimate frisbee tournament in the afternoon, so we took in a game and had a good time hanging out at Oosterbahn fieldhouse. Fun sport to watch and good to know one of the stars of the show. Now we're at home, packing and getting ready for the end of our last home hockey series and the week ahead, which starts at 2:40 for me tomorrow when my flight leaves for Houston.

Thursday, January 25, 2007
Valuation claimed another day. In truth I started with a strategies for growth meeting, but after that it was all valuation until the end of the business. I made a great heaping stir fry in the evening and we watched some Euro travel programs to keep ourselves excited about the honeymooning that is now just seven months away.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Fourteen hours is too many to be at school, but I've been here 12+ already with almost two more to go. It's break time in STRAT 669; I had btb before class and find myself wanting to sit for a little longer before wandering around. In fact, the trip down Hill Street to State Street was my only wandering of the day - my only breath of outside air since I stepped off the bus this morning. A mock interview, a group meeting, group pre-work, and a TMI speaker series about innovation filled my non-class hours and now I'm in the day's last class very much ready to head home and watch Michigan v Wisconsin.

Speaking of basketball, I played MBA hoops last night. There weren't many MBAs there but those of us who made it did our best against the younger, lethally accurate crew that was hanging around the CCRB. None of us get up and down the court like we used to or like we want too, but it is still fun and I think a little perspective helps it to be even more fun.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007
An academic day, as it tends to be when all I have is Valuation. I also revisited even more NA & ME ahead of Monday's interview - intact stability and inclining and GZ and metacentric height have been in the back of my mind for quite a little while so I'm trying to smash them forward again. I've also been researching the heavy lift shipping industry and the global automotive paint industry, simultaneously, trying to remember if I knew or know anything about paint. If only Robin were here...

She's actually in Minneapolis having quite a career search. It sounds like the Twin Cities are more her speed and she's got her foot in a few doors so hopefully there will be developments on that front. It's odd to have gone through so many things in parallel with Robin over the past few years; we were enough years apart in high school that we experienced things at different times, but lately we've been in college, finished degrees, and gotten into the job hunt at the same time.

Monday, January 22, 2007
Another Monday, but at Ross that is Monday with an exclamation point - Monday! - because there are free bagels courtesy "the Dean's Office". I don't really know why they don't just say "the administration" or "Dean Dolan" or "a magnaminous person with more money than you, sucka!" but this is the label chosen. Anyway, back to bagels. Every Monday these things are out from 9 until 10am and this morning I found myself in the position to get two in a guilt free way, without ever possessing two at the same time. This stroke of luck means that so far I have worked myself down to about $5,000 of tuition per bagel.

Then, class. I learned, for sure, but I really wasn't feeling it today and the somewhat morbid topic of the death care industry in strategy followed by the somewhat dry topic of accounting in accounting made me eager to step out into the sun and head home at 2:10. This evening I've read read read for the days ahead, brushed up on some NA/ME ahead of a trip (that is happening) for a Monday interview in Houston, and prepped for yet another interview that has come up, this time in the far away city of Warren.

Sunday, January 21, 2007
It's been a good weekend, relatively devoid of schoolwork for Jenelle and me. Friday I worked on some stuff and had a late meeting, but overall not a strenuous day. More of the same on Saturday: we watched Michigan and Michigan State basketball teams roll in a big way, the latter watched at The Arena with Heidi and a few of her friends.

Today we braved the crud falling from the sky and headed to Lansing. Our first stop was to see Grandma and Jacqueline. We saw some old pictures and had a little apple and caramel cake and got fully caught up, then we headed over to East Lansing. We hit the new Union Dairy Store for some federally-subsidized ice cream and then walked up to Jenelle's old dorm - Abbott Hall. After a tour of the dorm we walked Grand River Avenue back towards the Vibe at the Union, doing our good deed by returning a mobile phone in a snowbank to its rightful owner. Our last stop was our favorite Indian restaurant, Sindhu. The service has slowed, but this is still one of my all-time favorite restaurants courtesy some excellent food.

Thursday, January 18, 2007
MBA2s are like second term Presidents: they get the dark circles under their eyes and start to make statements without any real meaning without any real conviction. I noticed this during a class discussion today when everybody and their dog was sharing their case groups' assumptions. My friend Mark brought us back on topic with the reminder that "we might assume that they'll find a pot of gold under the machine, it is completely arbitrary." Yes! Exactly! Let's stick to what we know for certain, let the professor profess, and then have break.

Speaking of break, what an odd thing it is. Some people - who fit a certain profile - take breaks whenever they like. 11:07? Perfect... they'll take 10 minutes, get up, walk out, come back with a croissant. Then, at the appointed break time, everybody does the same, and that same person will come in six minutes late with a soda or a muffin or apple pie ala mode. I think Sodexho has made our professors take breaks because that's the only way I see the cafe making any money. Two forty nine for a salad can't be profitable, but I bet selling seventy muffins and bottles of Fruitopia at $1.99 each in ten minutes is a pretty brisk business.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007
My STRAT 669 - Advanced Competitive Analysis - evening class is kind of a struggle, especially at 9:30 on a night when the basketball team has a home game, but I really feel like it's one of those classes that teaches you to think. I like that about b-school: why learn what to do when you can learn how to figure out what to do? Sometimes I wish there were just answers to the problems posed, but by and large I prefer this system.

No real closure on the career front so far this week. I had hoped that things might quickly come together but that hasn't happened; I'm waiting on a pair of phone calls that could arrive at any moment and set things on fire. One could lead to a whirlwind trip to Houston, but I find myself gravitating towards the offer already on the table. I'm not sure why every new development reinforces the status quo. It's a job hunter's paradox.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007
This weekend's storm left us living in a giant Ann Arbor-sicle that was illuminated into a trillion points of light by a bright blue-sky sun.
Ann Arbor-sicle

I spent much of the day at school or prepping for it. In the morning I read for Valuation, then went to Valuation, then compiled my group's Valuation case study. In the afternoon I think I found another career mentor, this time in the form of a Webbie now working in supply chain at Carnival. I also did more reading and enjoyed leftover fruits of a busy weekend we spent (partially) in the kitchen.

Monday, January 15, 2007
It never fails: car show day brings weird weather. We got up early today, fought off the ice storm, and were among the first throngs of people who surged through the doors of COBO and into the North American International Auto Show. Unfortunately I think ice-caked trees might be our lasting memory of the day, as not too many cars really piqued our interest. A general review:
1 Audi: Once the premium fit, finish, and feel automobile, we really felt that the entire lineup - but especially the S and RS trim levels - has regressed in terms of interior refinement. The exteriors are still taught and delicious, but the multitude of buttons and surfaces indoors were too much.
2 Infiniti: Nissan's luxury spin-off may have taken the interior cake, but the once-edgy G35 now seems somewhat bland. Pity, because the seats are grippy and supportive, the consoles intuitive and tactile, and the dual-axis-brushed aluminum trim second to none.
3 Cadillac: It's no secret that Cadillac's angular Art & Science design language makes this my favorite marquee; for 2008 the CTS is looking better than ever. Thin seats with a between-the-shoulder-blades metal decal will have to be tested, but overall I think this was my favorite car.
4 Subaru: The triumphant repeat winner of Corey & Jenelle's Car Show Visitors Award of Virtually No Importance 2005 & 2006 figured prominently on our list of booths to visit. What we found, though, was that in the past few years their complete dominance in virtually every buying criteria has waned. The domestics have caught up in terms of interiors. Everyone has a competent AWD offering. Chrome grille wings are a figurative dime a dozen. Other shops get more power from a smaller engine without premium petrol. But, if a person finds themselves in the market for a reasonable, capable, upscale wagon Subaru is the only way to fly.
5 Cars of Significance: It's the year of the small, smaller, and smallest car. GM's Aura/Malibu and DCX's Avenger/Sebring twin twins seem squared off in the 'important to demonstrate sedan competence' category. Both were quality, though the Malibu has taken the interior a level ahead - the caveat here is that the other vehicles in the category can already be purchased. Smart brought its fortwo, which garnered odd stares, silly questions, and some very scared looks from mothers of small children.
6 The China Connection: China was back at the show as a car-exporting nation with Cheng Feng Motors' basement display. Their cars were not ready for the trip upstairs - loose wires under seats, exposed machinery in the wheelwells, etc, but I think a quote on Cheng Feng's website summarizes their trajectory (this is real, not made up, at all): "Cheng Feng Liebao Grow speedily."
Saturday, January 13, 2007
We were back down at the Yost Ice Arena this evening, but left with the sour taste of a home ice drubbing in our mouths. Michigan looked exhausted, played flat, and only managed a single 6 on 5 goal with 6.5 seconds remaining. It wasn't much of a Saturday before that, either: accounting work, reading a strategy case, a couple of quick phone calls.
Friday, January 12, 2007
I figured out a way to make people send you excited emails: announce that you are giving them $164.81. U-M Accounts Payable finally reimbursed the michigan trek's expenses, which means that the trekkers - myself included - are finally getting back the difference between what they paid and what we spent. It's a miracle. A five months late miracle.

Yesterday's space talk, I forgot to mention, took place in the U's new 'pringle.' This is the most visible auditorium on campus, right at the bend where Washtenaw turns into Huron, in the cradle of the curved facade of the bioscience research building. It's one of those places that you always intend to visit and this was my chance - it didn't disappoint. A very contemporary interior includes a seemless beech podium and very upscale lecture seats; a hidden entry behind a full-height screen brought your attention to the front of the room and nothing else. A very intriguing space all around.

Tonight, hockey. Michigan skated like the all-star team they are and crushed Northern 5-2. We made goulash for dinner and came home for chocolate pudding for dessert - sandwich that around a great hockey game and you've got a great Friday night.

Yesterday afternoon, aside from forgetting to blog - again, I took advantage of the U being totally awesome and went to a talk by Dr. Greg Olsen. Maybe you remember Greg Olsen: he's the American businessman who went to space for 10 days and lived on the International Space Station. He's also a crazy successful entrepreneur/scientist, but let's face it, going to space is cooler than buying low and selling high.

Now it is Friday. No classes means a much busier day than usual, with a case meeting and MBA hoops and a couple of career calls of growing urgency. Not that things are really urgent per se, but rather that I urgently want to know what the heck is taking so long.

Finally today, my thoughts on politics. Not that my thoughts are really about politics. I speculate that this is due to my supreme disenfranchisement with the government right now. As Amy Poehler pointed out, Iraq brought regime change to the US in November. But now our apparently-autocratic President has ignored this message and commanded a troop surge. Explain to me again why he gets the final say? I dislike that the executive branch is so not representative of the will of the people. We have a bicameral legislature which votes according to what rich people and major corporations want (which is a start) but the White House seems to just decree things pell-mell without recourse. How is that different than having a dictator? President Bush isn't overly ruthless or oppressive (to most of us, at least) but if he only accepts the advice of his inner circle and makes anti-American decisions without the fear of retribution, I don't see how he is a democratic leader.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007
It is time to review that which I know to be true:
1  I'm bad at predicting the outcome of sporting events. Had I been in a harmless office Bowl-Pick'em I think it is safe to say I would have lost. Two games I felt good about were total disasters. Florida, wow. Penn State? Yeah, did not see you chalking up a 'W'.
2  The first week of classes isn't fun. Too many reminders that school is getting tiresome. I'm tired of forming groups, tired of working in groups, tired of pre-reading cases, the works.
3  Even with the specter of the academic week ahead I elected not to go Tuesday-night hockey watching. With a perpetual doormat coming to town and nothing terribly big on the line except a humiliating loss, there was little incentive to participate and a cash incentive to sell my tickets.
4  It just isn't winter without snow. I stood at the bus stop in the lightest of flakes and cold temperatures this morning, with my feet in some hardened mud. This vexes me. I like snow.
Monday, January 08, 2007
First day back. Snow on the ground. Big blue buses... the real big blue buses. Rearranged Kresge 4. Case studies, cold calls, strategy, and analysis. Friendly faces in a busy shuffle. Accounting, cost management, strategy, and analysis. Back to the top of the library. Car show news from NAIAS. Oooohhh. Ahhhhh. Case studies. Home.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
The last weekend of winter break, this. It was wedding registry weekend; we started at Macy's on Friday evening and concluded at Bed Bath & Beyond on Saturday afternoon. (The results are visible on jenelleandcorey.com if you are so inclined.) I thought that registering would be awesome, but the dizzying array of choices and the clunky interface of the Symbol scanner take some of the fun out of the proceedings. Still, the premise is fantastic: you go into a store and simply scan everything you want. Crazy kitchen gadgets? Blleeeeep. An entire set of dinnerware? Bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep. Luggage? Awesome towels? The list goes on and on.

At home, APHC on the stereo from Hawaii with pork chops on George, mashed potatoes, and glazed carrots. We nibbled the last of the Christmas cookies and played with Oliver, and now the week is upon us. Classes start at 10:20 tomorrow morning with STRAT 672 - Strategies for Growth, Professor Karnani. I'm not sure I'm ready but bring on the last semester.

Friday, January 05, 2007
Another day of reading (WWII today, "Kite Runner" the day before yesterday) signifies the practical end of winter break. It's been a good break, chock full of laziness. Last year I had a project and that helped. This year I had nothing and nothing happened.

Everywhere in the Michigan football blogosphere (the same realm that Brent Musburger apparently chastised during the broadcast on Monday) there are reports of the line's poor play and the inevitable calling for the firing of Lloyd Carr. Equal in number, though, are a series of Rose Parade tributes that indicate which January 1st event was the highlight for Michigan fans. (As far as Carr goes, you don't get fired for going 10-2 anywhere, and if you stay away from drunken restaurant altercations - Gary Moeller - you just plain don't get fired at Michigan... more on that directly.)

Over Christmas I mentioned to Grandpa that Michigan is loathed by so many schools because, as a university community, we don't seem to care that much. Ohio State 'hates' us. MSU apparently believes we're elitist snobs. Trojans think we're midwestern hillbillies who are so bored with our midwestern hillbilly lives that we have nothing better to do than get into fights at the Rose Bowl Game. In return, Michigan is the exact opposite of each: we don't care that much. You never hear about riots in Ann Arbor. A bad loss in the Rose Bowl Game didn't generate a front-page picture in the Michigan Daily. U of M is too stoic and steeped in its ongoing, often accidental, traditions to get all worked up about which sports fans suggest we do what to whom. We just don't care. An MBA friend who went to tOSU as an undergrad suggested that our apathy towards rivalry is part of the reason the Wolverines are the subject of such animosity. I replied: "that's fine."

Thursday, January 04, 2007
The alarms sounded in sequence at 3:15, 3:23, 3:30, and (just for good measure) 3:45 last Saturday signalling the start of a pilgrimage of sorts: Jenelle and I were Rose Bowl bound. We drove west, flew west, flew southwest, flew west again, and found ourselves outside LAX next to our roll-aboard bag after a stressful day that included an unscheduled aerial tour of the Grand Canyon (holy cow) and 17 minutes in Las Vegas (ditto). The FlyAway bus took us downtown and the metro red line took us to our hotel; with the days' remaining hours we walked around downtown, astounded by the Disney Center and the vertical layers of the city, and winding up at, ironically, California Pizza Kitchen for dinner.
Los Angeles - through some smog
Sunday we toured the oldest part of Los Angeles, El Pueblo. It presented a great look into the origins of what is now an enormous metropolis - a single dusty hacienda and a 'zanja madre' (mother ditch) which supplied water. We also visited nearby Chinatown before jumping onto a bus for Santa Monica. Santa Monica is one of those places we know in name only, but what a cool seaside town. They recently converted their busiest downtown shopping street into a pedestrian zone that stretches three long blocks parallel to the Pacific. We didn't visit Santa Monica for shopping, though: we were there for the Official Michigan Pep Rally on the pier. The band was there, the team was there, and Lloyd Carr was there to get everybody fired up for the game. It was awesome.
Santa Monica Pier
After the pep rally, some additional Santa Monica wandering - and wading into the biting cold of the ocean - we went back inland to see more neighborhoods. We took metro to Hollywood, which was disappointing. We saw stars on the sidewalk and bright lights at Hollywood & Highland, but it took just over an hour to decide we needed a new New Year's Eve plan. So, we went one stop farther down red line and found more bright lights and a huge throng: Universal City.
Universal Studios Hollywood
The Tournament of Roses features a list of events as long as this blog, but we were interested in two - the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game. The former starts early in the morning (unless you camp out overnight along the parade route) with a trip to Pasadena on light rail. We found a great spot along a wall at Colorado Blvd and Allen Street, 55 minutes along the parade route. We made friends with our neighbors and ate donuts (the only store anything close to open at 7:45am on New Year's Day, even along the parade route) before the parade arrived. And when it did, wow. It smelled like flowers. It sounded like bands. It had George Lucas as Grand Marshall.
A Rose Parade float creeping down Colorado Blvd
When the last float had rolled past and the strange tow-truck post-parade had subsided, we walked into Colorado, turned left, and began the trek some four miles through Old Town Pasadena and beyond, to the Rose Bowl. An overnight of camping people had trashed the city and many merchants had (wisely?) boarded their windows, lending a very surreal post-disaster feel to the lull between Pasadena's marquee celebrations. The Rose Bowl is located in the heart of Arroyo Seco park, which means that you just walk and walk and walk through a residential neighborhood, down a hill, past some baseball diamonds, and then there it is. We stood in the shadow of the great stadium waiting for lunch but really had to go almost straight in to catch the pregame activities - Spirit of Troy, MMB, George Lucas tossing the coin, and our second impressive Air Force flyover of the day.
Four F-16s over the Rose Bowl
Then the game. What is there to say, really? Michigan lost the game in the trenches - in the first half the offensive line was terrible and then in the second half the defensive line joined them. Hart had 47 yards, not for lack of trying, and Henne had a day he'll spend Winter semester trying to forget. The bands played, the myriad student section cowbells reverberated off the scoreboards above us, and there were fireworks, but all of that is lost in a haze of Michigan not getting the job done, of ending its third straight season on a two-game skid, of my last football game as a student in the student section going horribly wrong.
The Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi
After the game, more woof. Drama in the stands, crowds, and the long walk uphill back to Pasadena after a bad loss on somebody else's home turf. Then travel drama, the red-eye home, and a recovery day in Michigan. I'm glad we went; it really is a totally different experience than any other event I've been to, but when you travel 2200 miles to watch big blue it is tough to lose in a late night blowout and then spend five hours sitting in an airport terminal thinking about it.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
The mother of all posts will be upcoming, but due to circumstances beyond my control it won't be coming today. As Jenelle's facebook says, we are "back from LA - wrecked, but back." January 1 in Pasadena with all of the trimmings is not for the faint of heart, but we made it. Now I've got some downtime before classes start again, even though Jenelle is back to school. Lazy days to start the new year, but there's much corresponding to do and I'm trying to get some reading in there, too.

© 2007 Corey Bruno