Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Jie has a one year free pass at Loews theaters that she got at a promotional event, and so we've been seeing a lot of movies lately. With serious time to kill in Boston we've seen Dodgeball, The Terminal, and Spiderman 2. Spiderman 2 was the best of the three, but Terminal was pretty good also. Dodgeball was entertaining, but it was a fairly brainless flick. The only thing I didn't like Spidey 2 is that it was overdone. They really layed on the cheese. You'll know what I mean when you see the running through the park scene at the end of the movie.

About face 
What an interesting 24 hours. Yesterday afternoon we returned home to find an e-mail from Harvard Real Estate offering us an apartment in SFP. Wait a minute, what?!?!? After a confused 15 minutes while we read and re-read the e-mail, it sank it that we had already missed the deadline to respond. We called the HRES office and they allowed us to notify them this morning to let them know whether we want it.

Anyway, I called our landlord and asked her opinion of the situation, given that we just signed the lease the day before. Thankfully, she understood and allowed us to cancel it. I felt really guilty about this, but since she will have little to no trouble renting out her apartment, and since it's going to save us about $5000 over two years, I think we made the right decision.

Anyway, this morning we went and signed the lease and got our keys, and now we are going to be living in SFP. Strange turn of events, huh?

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Our new home 
Yep, we signed the lease yesterday. This is great, cause we now have an address in Boston and everything. The full-on moving process can commence!

Sunday, June 27, 2004

We found a fantastic place today!!! It's in Allston, about 10 minutes from HBS and a short bus ride to Harvard Square. It is the bottom floor of a house, the owner lives in the 2nd floor. It's huge, probably 1200+ square feet. There are nice porches in front and back, a washer/dryer, etc. It's great! The only downside is the $1900/month rent, which was a little more than we wanted to pay. However, this place feels like a real home, and I think we can live here very happily for two years. Woo hoo!

If I can I will post some pictures when we go back to sign paperwork and measure room sizes, maybe tomorrow or Tuesday.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Peabody? No! 
Well, we successfully navigated the vagaries of three airports and made it to Boston. The day started with me missing the parking lot at the airport and having to circle around again. Then, we got a really slow shuttle driver. We still made it to our gate in time, though, but once there the US Air agent was rude to Jie. During the flight from Houston to Charlotte we had no fewer than 8 kids sitting within 3 rows of us, although most of them were quiet most of the time. I was worried about the connection in Charlotte, because we had to switch terminals, but that's a very nice airport and it was no problem. Apparently it's easier for people to get around it than bags, though, cause we waited 15 minutes on the plane at the gate for all the bags to be loaded.

Once we got to Boston we waited at baggage claim for 40 minutes, along with the rest of our flight, before someone realized that our bags had already come out somewhere else. They never updated the monitors, though, nor did anyone from US Air tell anyone. Terrible customer service.

We arrived at Peabody Terrace and immediately understood why no one likes to live here. The place feels like a soviet-designed apartment block. We are staying here because it saved us $2-300 over staying at a hotel. It's too early to say, but I don't think the sacrifice will be worth it. Who knows, maybe we'll adjust.

Then we went apartment hunting, which was a thoroughly disheartening experience. Part of it was our fault, since we weren't clear from the beginning about what we are looking for. Once we made it clear, though, the guy kept showing us the same crappy stuff and it got real tiresome real fast. Hopefully tomorrow will bring some more promising places.

Friday, June 25, 2004

A two car family no more 
I took my Maxima down to Carmax today to see what they would pay for it. I was expecting about $500, hoping for $1000, and shocked when they offered me $1300. I bought my Maxima 4.5 years ago for $7500 when it had 72k miles on it. Yesterday it hit 140k, it desperately need new brakes, and had scratches on the front and rear bumpers and front passenger side door. It's been a really good car for me, and I've enjoyed the very reasonable cost of ownership. Needless to say, I accepted the $1300 in an instant.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Woo hoo! 
I would like to say that I am officially unemployed, but at this time I'm just on vacation, so the unemployment cheer will have to wait for July 14th. In any event, I just finished my last day of work until next May or so! Tonight we're off to Gulf Greyhound Park to celebrate with a few coworkers (or are they former coworkers???), and with 50 cent beers, I'll be getting blotto.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Fillings, Last days, and potential career options 
As part of the pre-move wrap-up, I went and had two cavities filled today. I really hate that.

Tomorrow is my last day of work, Jie's last day is Friday. I've got one last project to complete in the morning and then I imagine I'll spend the rest of the day shaking hands and kissing babies, so to speak. I've had a very good time in my three years here, and I've certainly learned a lot. The latest questions (we've thankfully gotten past the 'how can you quit???' questions) I've been getting are about my post-MBA plans. For the most part, I see two options:

Investment Management/Finance-type job - There is a lot of money to be made here, particularly early on in one's career. I took the CFA level 1 exam, so I am somewhat familiar with the concepts behind the job. However, there are two drawbacks. First, the long-term compensation may not be as lucrative. Also, I don't think it would be as personally satisfying as option #2.

Operations - Going back into some sort of operations role with a technicial company would really give me full leverage of my MBA & engineering degrees. Although the initial money isn't as good (it's not even close!), the long-term payoff can be very, very nice. It also involves making business decisions, managing others, and in general doing a bunch of stuff that I find challenging and interesting.

The Short-term compensation vs. long-term compensation tradeoff is a tough one because I actually have a post-career, career plan. My goal is to save and invest wisely so that I can retire by 40. After that I may get a PhD in economics, or something like that, and run for office. I think working every other year in the Texas Legislature would be just about the right amount of work. I've always wanted to go into politics, and I love hearing myself speak (hence the case method ;), so it seems only natural...

Monday, June 21, 2004

Of Laptops and fellow admits 
I ordered my laptop today. It was basically as described below, and came out to almost $2400 when shipping and tax were added in. Their estimated ship date is July 14th, but hopefully it will be faster than that.

Jie and I went to a happy hour with two other Houston HBS admits today. One is ex-military, with some interesting stories, most of which he couldn't tell us because he isn't sure what he is allowed to say. The other is an engineer for a local energy company. We had a really good time, and we made tentative plans to get together again in late July. The more people I meet, the more excited I am to get to Boston and start this new phase.

3 days of "work" left... :D

Sunday, June 20, 2004

A good weekend... 

Laptop options redux 
Ok, the official HBS laptop deal is now available. I've pretty much accepted that I should go ahead and purchase the HBS deal even though it's probably overkill. In order to make a reasonable difference in price I would have to go down to a 1.4GHz processor and 40GB hard drive, and I don't think it's worth it. However, one question remains: should I get the 3 year Thinkpad Protection extended warranty for $120? It covers accidental damage, including a broken screen, which isn't always covered under the regular warranty. I'm leaning towards buying it, but what do y'all think?

Anyway, here are the laptop specs:
IBM T42 - 1.7 GHz processor, ATI Radeon 9600 64 Mb graphics card, 512 Mb RAM, 60 Gb hard drive, 14.1" SXGA+ display, integrated 802.11 a/b/g & bluetooth wireless, with XP Pro. Price - $1730

Here are the add-ons:
3 Year Thinkpad Protection - $120
3 Year Onsite Repair - $120
Additional 512 Mb RAM - $150
Total Price - $2120


Thursday, June 17, 2004

5 days and counting 
That's all the time at work I have left. Unfortunately, I probably have two weeks of work left so it will be busy. Whenever I leave a place I always set the ball in motion on some grand plan that corrects some problem I see in the work place. I think it's the deadline that kicks me into gear to finally get on paper, and out in the work group, the ideas that have been percolating in my head. This latest one is a minor reorganization of our work group, but I think it will make us more efficient. Best of all, I won't be around to have to implement it... ;)

When you work for a big, old school company, nobody ever resigns. Just about everyone is in for the long haul, waiting until they meet the rule of 75 or some other formula to get their full pension and benefits. Nowadays I am getting all sorts of questions about why I am quitting, how can I afford to quit, what will I do, etc. In order to stop the inquisition I normally just tell them that my sugar momma is going to provide for me. That response usually elicits a more entertaining reaction.

It looks like we have nailed down where we will be staying for our five days in Boston. Rather than shell out for a hotel, we are subletting someone's HBS apartment. It'll save us some money, especially if we can manage to eat in a few meals instead of eating out all the time. I'm hoping that we get a call from HRES next week with a housing offer and then our Boston trip can just be a vacation. I'm not holding my breath on that one, though...

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Check that off 
Alright, Essentials of Accounting is done. Not a lot left to do between now and August 19th. I called the HBS IT department and they said that the official HBS laptop deal should be on the web any day now, and they recommended that I wait for that rather than calling IBM. If they get the deal up there by Friday I can probably still have my laptop for the trip to Boston on the 26th. Not that I need it...

< sarcasm>How generous< /sarcasm> 
I found out today that all managers who worked the strike are getting a $500 bonus and an extra day off. That roughly works out to $20/hour if the average person worked 32 hours during the strike. Although better than nothing, I am disappointed in the company and I think it sends the wrong message. First of all, they didn't account for the fact that some people worked 20 hours and some worked 50+. Also, all these managers stepped up to the plate and sacrificed their personal lives, not just for that weekend, but for all of April and May when there was so much uncertainty. And for that we get $20 an hour for a four day strike? I think the clear message here is that you should do the bare minimum for the company, because they are going to do the bare minimum for you.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Preparations continue 
At this point the aforementioned computer nook is completely decluttered. Well, that's not entirely true. Once I get my laptop we will take my PC to Jie's parents and then this spot will really be ready to be packed. Tonight we packed up a bunch of the crystal, champagne glasses, and other stuff that isn't going to Boston with us. We've got two boxes of things ready to go to Jie's parents house and another stack for the lake. Like I said, this is fun. Hopefully it will make moving less painful.

Next Friday, the first day after my last day of work, I am going to sell my car. I would have thought this would be bittersweet, but in reality I am excited to get rid of it. I'm not a big car person, I think they are over-priced, over-engineered toys. I drove a suburban and an integra before my current car, and I hated both. Fortunately, I loved my Maxima, and it's been pretty good to me over the last 4.5 years and 70,000 miles. I'll be lucky to get more than $500 for it, but I didn't expect much so it's gravy.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Getting Ready 
Today I had to work a half day, so I spent most of the time in the office cleaning out my cubicle. I would say I am 90% ready to go at work, with almost all of my personal things removed. I understand that I am jumping the gun a little, but man am I excited to quit. I also e-mailed the other people in my program and notified them that the 24th would be my last day. Two of them happened to be working and they IM'ed me immediately. Everyone is sick of the program and ready to move on. I have to admit that I am grateful to the program for giving me the experience I needed to get into HBS, but I really wish they had executed a little better.

Then I came home and started cleaning out the computer nook that has been my CFA/GMAT/Apps area for the last two years. I have a lot of crap. Several months ago I cleaned out about half my books and took them to Half Price Books, a cool used book store in the southwest. If they don't buy 'em, they will give them to local charities, so it's a one-stop shop for old books. Anyway, I am going to store about a third of my remaining books in Houston, another third go to Half Price tomorrow, and the rest will go to Boston. I have also found old checkbooks, floppy disks, etc. and I am rapidly filling trash bags. As much of a pain as this all is, I do love to declutter.

Still no word on housing. We have put in for several places on the immediate and future housing list, but we haven't gotten lucky yet. We are still hoping for on-campus, but it doesn't look good.

Also no word on the laptop purchase option. This is getting kind of irritating, since I had planned to order my laptop a week or two ago. No big deal, really, but delayed gratification has never been one of my strong points.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

A new advice post 
I put up a new post on the MBA Advice website. It's about the timeline for applying to b-school. I'm not real happy with the formatting, but I will work on that tonight cause I have my HTML cheatsheet at home. The fact that I spent my morning on this should be a pretty good indication of how busy I am at work right now...

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

BBQ, iPod, 13 
We had a good time at the BBQ on Friday night, it was a relaxed affair with some great food. Discussions tended to center around common issues that we are all going through, like housing and financial aid. It was also interesting to see how the different spouses are planning for the transition. We also may try to join forces for movers, so that could be a big help when it comes time to move.

Two things struck me as I thought back about the evening the following morning. First, the power of the b-school network is already becoming apparent to me. Each classmate represents a lead at a different company, and regardless of whether you are going to HBS, Texas, or any other school; you’re gonna get a nice network out of the deal. Also, the most common trait of all of the HBS people I have met is a high level of self awareness. Everyone seems to have a real good idea of who they are and where they’ve been, and they also have a probable (if somewhat vague) idea of where they are going.

We got the repaired iPod last night in the mail (after it was delivered Friday to the wrong apartment complex). Like Hexley, I too am very impressed with Apple and the product suite they have put together around the iPod. I can’t imagine that the compact disc will last very long when everyone can carry out their entire music collection in one hand and use it (after buying expensive attachments) with any stereo, any where. If I was only a music junkie then I think I would have to have one. I think I can live without, though.

Only 13 days of work left… :D

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Travel Plans, Resignation, and BBQ 
Yesterday we set up our flight arrangements for a trip to Boston. We were already flying to New Jersey on July 1st for a wedding, so now we are flying to Boston on June 26th and then to NJ on the 1st. After that it's back to Houston (and vacation!) on July 3rd.

As a consequence of all this, we had to move our last day of work up a few days. Now that's not a bad deal... ;) Since it's really getting close now (15 days left!), I went ahead and submitted my letter of resignation to my boss. My official last day will be July 12th, but I have 11 days of vacation to use up so my real last day will be June 24th. In my letter I laid out everything: why I am leaving, how I would prefer a leave of absence, how much I have enjoyed working for SBC, and how helpful my boss has been. He's a little embattled at work right now, I figured he could use the show of support. It was a feel-good letter to write, and he appreciated it.

Tomorrow we are heading back to the lake, but this time we will be spending Friday night in Austin. We have a BBQ with two other HBS admit couples, which I am really looking forward to. Then on Saturday it's out to the lake and on Sunday back here. I have to work next Saturday, so I have this Monday off. Damn, another three-day weekend... ;)

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Mailing 2, and more housing news 
I finally recieved Mailing 2 today from HBS. In a way, I kind of wish I hadn't. After reading about how others, particularly people attending Wharton, don't have anything to do before school starts I am wondering what HBS thinks I had in mind for the summer. Clearly they didn't think I would actually want to relax. Anyway, aside from software, here is what I recieved:
- A Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test
- Essentials of Accounting and Core Concepts of Accounting by Robert Anthony and Leslie Breitner
- Analysis for Financial Management by Robert Higgins
- Creating Modern Capitalism by Thomas McCraw

I listed them in the order I will likely tackle them. I have already completed the MBTI test, next up is accounting. It's not a real thick book, nor is the financial management text. Creating Modern Capitalism, on the other hand, is a real brute. It's 700 pages and apparently forms the basis for the Foundations class that all HBS students go through for their first two weeks. I have heard that there is time to read it during Foundations, but I will probably try to knock it out in August before school starts. Who knows, maybe I will start it in July.

As for housing, I e-mailed the Harvard Affiliated Housing office, per Rosanna's suggestion. I called about 10 places this afternoon and got 7 "already rented" and 1 who only leased in person. Jie and I are considering going up to look in person from June 26th-30th, and we've been told that there will still be plenty of places at that time that will be ready for an August 1st move-in. Can anyone out there corroborate that? If we make a decision before Saturday we could go up there the 19th-22nd instead. Would a week make a difference? The agent I spoke with today told me there was plenty on the market at the end of June, since most tenants only give 30 days notice. He seemed to think that we would have no trouble finding a place at the end of June. I guess we'll find out...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours? Blogarama - The Blog Directory