Just rolled back into Ann Arbor after a plant tour at Merrilat. Merrilat makes cabinets - the kind you'd get if you bought a spec built home - and it was pretty interesting to see what mass production of massively standardized products looks like. Anyway, they have the whole 'lean' thing down pretty well and are definitely in a continuous improvement mode, as you might guess given the market condition of their customers. For whatever reason this tour felt a little ungratifying... I acknowledge I may be reaching the point with field trips where it takes a steel mill to excite me, but this should have been more exciting to somebody who could probably get an IOE degree without taking any more classes.
Back at home I have been madhouse cleaning ahead of a visit by the movers. The fact that someone is coming to estimate our move is a sure sign that in four months we're moving house(s) to Pennsylvania. This appointment involves a drive to Jenelle's, too, so that they get the whole picture, and once the door closes at Jenelle's the weekend will be on like Donkey Kong.
Jenelle and I hit the town last night to use a free dessert coupon at bw3s and then to browse Borders' selection. It's starting to feel very much like summer Ann Arbor: streets slammed at 9:30, Stucchi's door left open to handle the crowds, campus full of lounging people at all hours. We love it here but feel like, after our experience in Santa Monica, both Main Street and South U should be turned into pedestrian zones. Traffic (or at least drivers in the know) already navigates around these choke points, and how much cooler would two distinct, tree-lined brick walking streets make the town? I'm in favor. Opposed?
This morning there was news on the long-lost art website front. While a new, improved, database-driven site is on the way, it appears that the work I've done will be in use. I don't think anybody wants to be a placeholder, but it is hard to estimate how long AOV will be up in the form I developed.
After that, a mighty struggle to get going with my day. I lacked the motivation to dive into my ethics paper about Dow's ongoing role in the Bhopal disaster. I barely mustered the motivation to read tonight's AdvCompAnalysis case. I ultimately defaulted to motivating myself over to bw3's for a section three meet and greet about the class gift. As a class, we voted to fund a fund that helps non-profit-oriented grads repay their loans in a more non-profitable way. It's supposed to be a real differentiator for the school, which means we are now challenged with putting a meaningful amount of money into this thing so that it can actually help people, you know, help people.
Somewhere in the Michigan hockey blogosphere there are comments/rants about each of the following: 1. Michigan being better off losing to MSU on the 16th, 2. Michigan taking too many penalties, some of which were not particularly its fault, 3. Michigan's penalty kill being terrible, with responsibility spread hyperbolicly around #36, and 4. the impending departure of virtually everyone who is really, really good. Yes, each of those things has, is, or will happen. MGoBlog suggested after the pairings were announced that 'hope exists only to be crushed' and I suppose this is truest for hockey: an off day, two dubious calls, and your season is over. In no other sport can the whole world seem against you like it does in hockey; the worst day at basketball and football gives you 50 or more chances while a bad hockey game might get you only a dozen. Yet we watch. We file down State Street in the dark and cold, into a drafty old fieldhouse built for basketball, with our quirky and profane cheers, to hope. It doesn't matter if our hopes are crushed, this is hockey and hope springs eternal. Maybe Summers will take Porter's spot as scoring machine...we don't know who will pass him the puck, but that's hope.
More of the same, academically. Life rotates between ethics reading and strategy reading, but I'm so weary of cases and so case-confused at this point that I'm never sure which is which. It's been beautiful beyond description in Ann Arbor, perhaps as payback for a dreary fall or perhaps due to climate change. I don't know, but that's certainly a post for another time.
Damn. I've spent three years cheering - in person - for a Michigan championship, and never any harder than in ice hockey. Last night the team lost in the first round of the NCAA playoffs, meaning my dreams for a title in one of 'my' sports are over.
I should also recap other weekend events so as not to slight any participants. Friday night we watched Jeff Daniels' "Escanaba in da Moonlight," which I can only hope faired better as a stage production. Then we opened the season at Casa Dominick's with sangria, pizza bread, and friends old and new. Dom's closes early, so we headed downtown to Monkey Bar for a round of pool (which I opted out of) before calling it a night. Saturday was a day out for wedding bands, a trip to the grocery, dinner, the game, and a late night screening of "Father of the Bride." That brings us to today: stew in the crock pot, some wedding stuff, some sports on TV, cleaning, and a friend for dinner.
It's not that I've had blog laziness, it is more that there's precious little to report. Remember one time about a year ago I put a screen shot of my calendar up? This week is the opposite of that. Things are starting to pick up, though: I got my first ethics assignment this week and a big report/project/case/thing is looming in Advanced Competitive Analysis. I've also been playing basketball - twice earlier in the week up at NCRB and then in a few hours down at IMSB. It's good to get out, shoot around for an hour, play a game, and then cool down afterwards. So often with MBA hoops it is a mad rush to show up, pick teams, play, then go home.
I've been arranging stuff for the wedding in the off hours, which means lots of phone calls, lots of scratching my head, lots of wondering how to request things for a wedding without the word 'wedding' actually leaving my mouth. ("Uhhh yeah, we need 150 white napkins at an inn on the water for a Saturday in July for a, um, trade show.") It almost never works out, though: vendors can sense a wedding from a thousand (or in this case, ~400) miles away. ("Hmmmm, what time will you be starting the reception at your 'trade show'?")
Ford Motor Company and the F-150 brand sent me a lovely offer in the mail last week: test drive a FoMoCo vehicle and get a $75 Mastercard. Hunh. This morning I did just that, except the salesman picked up on the fact that I wasn't going to be buying today or this week or even this year, so he just signed my card and sent me on my way with a brochure and a "ya'll come back and see us, ya hear!" This took 20 minutes. Let's break this transaction down: Ford paid $225/hour for me to sit in an Edge and take a brochure. Seems terrible, yeah? Well, NSFMF... if it weren't for this offer I wouldn't have even done that. So, Ford 1, big bad world 0? Again, no. The kicker here is that the Edge just didn't do it for me. Much like the Freestyle I drove a couple months back, this is just a very unexciting product. It's a fine vehicle, but I find it satisfying rather than appealing, and $75 isn't going to bridge that gap.
After taking candy from a crying baby, I went to school and completed the final paperwork certificating my dropped class. It's a beautiful cold clear morning in Ann Arbor and streets are quiet at 11am, so a nice time for a walk over to LS&A. On the way back, after completing all the paperwork, I had a hot dog from a streetcart for brunch and just felt happy to be on the street on a Tuesday morning.
I'm not a quitter, really I'm not. In my adult life I've abandoned two endeavours: baseball at Webb and, now, LHC 561 Management Presentation. While I was preparing for the class today it just kind of dawned on me that the three hours one night a week to get a few helpful pointers may not be a good value. So, I dropped it and I'm not even (that) sorry.
Late weekend recap: Sunday was lazy, weddingy. We watched Steve Martin's film adaptation of his novella "Shopgirl" and had some Patak's-derived Indian food and basmati rice. That was basically the full lid on Sunday. Today was something of the same - errands for me, a full day of PD for Jenelle. I went to the gym, too, and played hoops until I was too tired to get back on defense.
Quite a sequence of bloggable events, really: a steel mill, a pair of Ann Arbor hotspots, a ton of friends, a heaping mid-night plate of hippie hash, a day of wedding detail gathering, a dinner with family in South Lyon, and an evening at home.
The steel mill - the Rouge facility now operated by Severstal - was awesome. We saw, though smoke and fire, molten steel pouring into a rail car and headed for the slab plant. We saw the slabs sliding into the ovens, emerging onto a conveyor, and being pressed into coils. Until you've stood on an overhead catwalk and watched (and felt the incredible heat of) a red-hot 40' x 4' x 8" piece of steel emerge from an oven and roll down the conveyor at breakneck speed into the presses, you haven't felt the power of the industrial revolution. It was very, very impressive.
In the evening we celebrated a smattering of Section 3 birthdays at Live at PJ's. Our evening started at bw3's to check out the hockey game, but we moved quickly to PJ's to meet friend after friend and catch up. A great, great, great, great, great cover band was on stage and we reveled until nearly closing, ducking into the snowy street just after last call. Since it was only two blocks away and we weren't headed anywhere in any rush, we stepped into Fleetwood Diner just ahead of the last call crowd for a little late-night snack.
Saturday, uh, morning we got up and headed out to gather supplies for some of the craftier parts of the wedding: paint, brushes, ribbon. We then headed up to South Lyon to visit Jenelle's aunt, uncle, cousins, and grandfather for a St. Patrick's day cabbage and corned beef boiled dinner. We played catch on the trampoline and got caught up, but we headed home before the hour got too late so we could have an evening at home.
It was the Tauber end-of-year banquet tonight, incredibly. Without the pressures of recruiting or networking or an upcoming summer project, the MBA2s felt free to sit at a "kids' table" and eat ribs for appetizers and talk about non-career stuff. Daryl offered some poignant remarks about what Tauber (known to some as 'the institute', but that is simply not an available title in my lexicon) has given us and what we have contributed and can give back as alumni. So often I think these remarks are a little trite, but I was an SAB member when, under Daryl's leadership, we were part of the change from TMI to Tauber Institute. It feels good to have been here and been part of that process, and I think the connections we have in Tauber will be among the strongest and most useful that we leave school with.
Earlier in the day Boeing's CEO Jim McNerney gave a talk about innovation and leadership. It was an interesting viewpoint, contrasting the eureka! invention and the incremental innovation. I largely agreed, but felt like Mr. McNerney painted the former as a proactive move and the latter as a reactive step. He was kind enough to stick around and talk with myriad students, but I wasn't eager enough to press the issue with somebody of his import. There's something humbling about knowing that somebody is waiting to get on a Citation and jet to Chicago - who cares about proactivity vs. reactivity when you can fly around on a bizjet and talk with other people who do the same?
Back for more... I'm getting things in place, procedurely, for an August first start date at Knoll but other things keep rolling in. There's not much attraction for me to being an Indian consultant or a district parts & sales manager, but I'm wondering how to turn off the opportunities. I get the sense that this whole 'Ross alumni' thing is going to be a pretty big deal in the long term.
Congratulations are also in order for friends to the north, who welcome their first child!
My thoughts for today revolve around the proper way to close a phone call: who is responsibile for the closing salutation? If the caller needs something from the callee, shouldn't the callee close when that need has been fulfilled? (ie, customer service calls?) What about calls where the caller is just informing the callee? In that case, when the information transfer is complete, shouldn't the caller close?
Another Winter B day: I spent an inappropriate amount of the 'work day' peeling stickers off vases, if that gives you some idea about my schedule. Tonight I have class, though, which means I have to grit teeth and prepare a case and be ready to be sharp from 7 til 10.
An absolutely beautiful day in Ann Arbor, but I spent much of the morning indoors doing domestic stuff. Laundry and taxes - every bit as certain as Twain's pair. After getting that squared I headed down to class; I'm remembering that I struggle with learning ethics because it is hard to feel you've gained anything concrete in an ethics class. I wrote a paper in undergrad about the use of examples to prove ethical points... my thesis was that one can always build a better example to create or escape an ethical thought experiment, yet that's exactly how we approach ethics. With class in the books I wandered home, then to the store, then to Jenelle's. We went for a long brisk walk to pick up a significant package at her leasing office, then carried it the same long distance home. In the evening, school work and honeymoon details.
posted at 9:21 PM - comments
Monday, March 12, 2007
Yesterday Anthony wondered aloud if this semester was like second semester sophomore year at Webb. I looked back through our schedule (because I have free time for that sort of thing) and decided that this is actually easier. That laziest of Webb semester we actually had a high number of classes, they were just easy. Now, though, I have just three classes and two are totally simple. Two of these are once-a-week night classes, the other is just one and a half hours twice a week. Anyway, the rundown is as follows: STRAT 669 Advanced Competitive Analysis, BA 512 Ethical Management, and LHC 561 Management Presentation. Sweet. Ollie can expect to be in tip-top shape by the end of this semester because I'll have plenty of time for feather-toy chasing.
posted at 10:41 PM - comments
Sunday, March 11, 2007
It's new daylight saving time day, which was a crude surprise after a night out. However, it was a perfect near-spring day outside so we ventured to Van Buren park for some early season frisbee and a walk around. We also shopped for tux accessories (shoes and bowties - oh my!) and invitation paper, and laid low, at one point actually falling asleep on the couch. We reheated some pulled pork for dinner and now have just a little evening left before a new week kicks off.
posted at 8:53 PM - comments
It was our last night as Michigan student sectioners, and the varsity hockey team provided quite a show - 8-3 over Northern. The students were riled up for the last game of the season at Yost, and a group of our favorite MBA2s gathered at Rachel's beforehand for some pre-playoff pre-gaming. We had burgers, watched Rajiv and Clay try to hit a foam golfball into an open second story window, and then piled into an SUV and headed down to the game. After TJ and Jack and the rest of the team had skated their last shifts, we went to Fraser's bar on Packard for more socializing.
Not much of a day outside of that; we hit the mall to arrange tuxedos, found quite a steal on one myself, and that was that. Our morning also started with fire trucks at Huron Towers - Ann Arbor FD putting Glen Cove FD to shame by responding in about two minutes. Jenelle pointed out that I'm attracted to emergency vehicles, which is true, though, in truth, I think I'm attracted to the myriad compartments found on emergency vehicles. I don't know what they keep in the third drawer from the bottom on the left side of the back of an E-One fire truck, but I figure it'd probably be worth finding out.
Friday midday Michigan hoops game means I'm at home watching the proceedings as Blue battles OSU. This is a cause for frustration only offset by Ollies alternating cute and hysterical antics. After the varsity game there is going to be an MBA hoops game, which I'm sure will demonstrate that powder skiing and basketball do not share many muscle groups. Tonight we've got a Michigan playoff event that doesn't feature a top-ranked opponent: NMU comes to town to face off at Yost. I'm pretty stoked for the noise and the craziness, but sad that this is the last home sporting event of my Michigan student days.
posted at 1:20 PM - comments
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Sunday was something of a big day for us: decision day. There were three opportunities on the table, each with a different professional angle and personal situation to be considered. It was a difficult decision but ultimately we found a match for both personal and professional interests:
So, effective August 1st I'll be a Business Process Manager at Knoll's East Greenville, PA, facility and we'll move (back to) the Lehigh Valley. Our next tasks include getting Jenelle a job and finding a housing solution. In the meantime, we soldier on with our daily routines: Jenelle works hard, spends her evenings planning and grading, and I go to class for 90 minutes a day and read the newspaper. Seriously, I love Winter B.
posted at 10:17 PM - comments
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Winter B rules! I have had plenty of time today to kick back, make myriad phone calls, straighten out acceptance phone call snafus, work on wedding stuff, and all around take it easy. Tonight I have class - and I had a class yesterday - but a class a day is no reason to get up early or, say, take a shower before noon. Here is a good reason to take a shower, though:
In a moment Gram will truly commiserate with, I'm on Wyly 2 blogging because I don't have class. Due to some sloppy date-watching on my part, I trekked down to Ross after a day at home to start my last academic half semester ever, only to find that it actually starts tomorrow. So, now I get to go home and have an evening. I'm already fully aware that this will be a much easier semester than last, but grades have begun trickling in and all indications are that last semester was not actually that hard. This is in keeping with my educational trend of closing hard despite the feeling that I'm going to completely fail out (see also: NA X - Props, etc).
posted at 7:06 PM - comments
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Park City, Utah, signalled the fifth consecutive Webb classmate ski trip. We've never had much luck with the powder, but Lucky 2007 changed that.
Over six days Park City Mountain Resort and The Canyons in Park City got 68 inches of fresh powder, including four days over a foot of new snow. I rented Rossignol B3 powder skis for Wednesday and Thursday to better cope with fresh snow over my waist in spots. We hit glades where the snow kept speeds manageable, went off jumps where the snow grabbed our skis on the landings, and got face shots on what is ordinarily a very mundane road between two lifts. At both resorts we hiked for even fresher fresh; I finally got to fully utilize the X-carry ski (and snowboard... picture some other day) functionality of my Dakine Heli Pro II. I never enjoyed skiing with a backpack too much, but this week the water was nearly a necessity and the hip-belt camera pouch came in handy early and often.
Off the mountain we enjoyed Park City - some. It's an upscale ski town, for sure, and we found a pair of good meals in its lower-end restaurants: Grub Steak and Main Street Pizza and Noodles. Not much luck was had in the t-shirt department, but I expanded my pin collection by two, but these shiny medallions won't tell the story of snow piled high across the Wasatch Range.